Martyrs (2008) Movie Review
Written by: ML
Edited by: Grave Reviews Staff
Director: Pascal Laugier
Producers: Richard Grandpierre, Simon Trottier
Writers: Pascal Laugier
Date Released: September 3, 2008
Mylène Jampanoï as Lucie Jurin
Jessie Pham as Young Lucie
Morjana Alaoui as Anna Assaoui
Erika Scott as Young Anna
Catherine Bégin as Mademoiselle
Isabelle Chasse as The Creature
Robert Toupin as Mr. Belfond
Patricia Tulasne as Gabrielle Belfond
Juliette Gosselin as Marie Belfond
Xavier Dolan-Tadros as Antoine Belfond
Jean-Marie Moncelet as Étienne
Rating = 4/5 Graves
***May contain some spoilers***
Martyrs (2008) is about a little girl named Lucie who escaped from her abusers. She met Anna in the orphanage who quickly became her best friend. Anna knew that Lucie is seeing a nightmarish creature which haunts her even in her waking moments. Fast forward to 15 years later, Lucie murders the entire family of her abuser believing that it will stop the monster from haunting her. After discovering that the monster was in fact the woman she left when she escaped and that it was just all in her mind because she was the one hurting herself, she committed suicide. Anna accidentally discovered a secret torture chamber behind the cabinet and found a woman in chains. She helped her but was soon killed by a group of people who came into the house. This group then captured Anna and tortured her to become a martyr. They believed it means reaching a transcendental state which will only be achieved through torture. True enough, Anna reached transcendence but the group failed to acquire the knowledge.
As one of the well-known films in the torture porn genre, Martyrs definitely delivered. Right at the 12-minute mark, no one will see the bloodshed coming. This shotgun-firing sequence with the whole Belfond family was probably the bloodiest. The torture wounds in this movie are so realistic especially with the creature that haunts Lucie and the one that Anna tried to save. Other scenes that will make audiences squirm include the removal of the headgear that was stapled to the skull, the sewing of Lucie’s skin, Anna revealed to have been skinned alive, Anna’s physical abuse, and all the pain whether self-inflicted or otherwise.
The Grave Review
This movie was marked as disturbing because of its popularity in the torture porn genre. It was unquestionable because just after a few minutes of a short back story, it was already a bloodbath. Though the movie was focused more on Anna’s abusive experience, it was sad to see Lucie die early in the movie. Her acting was so superb that you can really see and feel the tension of getting revenge and the haunting that followed.
The montage of Anna’s torture sequences were so visual that even lovers of horror and onscreen violence will flinch with pain. Though it was a bit too long and dragging, it was needed to instill the brutal purpose of this group. The repeated escalation of physical abuse, feeding inedible food, and the eventual indifference from Anna towards the last “stage” of the procedure were all essential in telling the story. It tells audiences that although there is no sympathy from the abusers, the violence was with a purpose albeit disturbing.
The best part is probably the scene where Anna finally transcended. The camera work from slowly zooming in to her face, into her eyes, into moving energy, into nothingness, and back to zooming out from the eyes was just brilliant.
The ending is a bit lacking in terms of explaining what happened to the cult after Mademoiselle died. Also, audiences who were able to witness the abuse might be looking for the truth about achieving transcendence through torture. It left so much room for questions, which can also be a good thing because audiences were left shocked and thinking.
Overall, this movie is perfect if you feel good about torture porn and some bloody mess. This is brutally violent and totally not for the weak ones.
For the foregoing reasons, Grave Reviews gives Martyrs (2008) four graves out of fives graves.
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