Ah, ya gotta give it to the French, when they go out to make a genre film, they really go all out. Oh, sure, Asian horror will give you the viscera, some guts and goo thrown around and lots of violence that will flip your lid but for all out body bangin’ mind screws you need to head to France. Oh, dear France, how could my brethren be so cruel to you and your foods (American Fries, really?) when you are so wonderfully cruel to the rest of the world through films?
A young girl is lucky to escape with her life from an isolated industrial complex where she was being held captive and mercilessly abused but, while the cuts and bruises will heal, the deepest damage will never be fixed. So begins MARTYRS, a film that doesn’t show its whole hand until the film is half over but, when you begin to see all the cards you will start to see how much damage was done to that young girl in the beginning of the film. Unflinchingly cruel, the film begins as an examination of sanity and becomes one of faith, and along that path we see how large a part pain plays in all of it. To reveal much of the plot is to take away from a film that is about the experience, but rest assured, this is a horror film, in every sense.
This is a film where the fact that it is a horror film does not hamper the film but which serves as the way to tell a dark story of obsession and faith. The direction is strong here, as is the acting, though the cruelty of the film will turn many off. I admit that the way the film plays out wasn’t the most satisfying but see that this was the best way to convey that the characters don’t know exactly what they are involved with, and how bad things really are. Unlike too many horror films nothing is easy here, nothing is spoon fed to you, and the end isn’t something that is walked away from but which is discussed. The film’s violence is over the top, and the scenes of torture could surely have been cut but, again, for impact, we see a lot of things that we may not enjoy seeing. This is not a film about enjoyment though, this is a film about dark, ugly, bitter truth, and as such, it may not be something you fully enjoy, but that is not to say you will not like it. I am not even sure how much I liked the film but it is haunting, and it is scary, and it works in the same way that a film like HOSTEL works in that it shows you a side of human nature we don’t like to see, don’t like to examine, and which most would prefer to dub torture porn.
Friends, torture and porn are not terms which go together, torture porn is a made up term to describe very violent, very dark, very nasty movies in which torture takes place. And while some people will ‘get off’ on the torture scenes in the same way that kids used to flock to the true gore movies, generally, I don’t know anyone that gets much out of seeing people tortured, in movies or otherwise. Thus, it is a BS term to describe a trend in recent films, like dubbing movies with masked killers ‘slasher’ films.
Will you like MARTYRS? Hmm. It is a very good film, a very disturbing film, and an engaging film, but you like JURASSIC PARK, you fear movies like MARTYRS. You fear them because there is enough truth in them to make them all the more disturbing. Well made, and watchable, but not something you watch on a whim.
8 out of 10