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Martyrs (2008)

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American horror movies these days are often watered down and boring. That’s not to say all of them, but most. For us, it’s all about blood, boobs, and bank (see the “Friday the 13th” remake). Americans just don’t seem to have the stones to go there. But the French do…

“Martyrs” is a French film from 2008. It’s part of the wave of movies that’s gaining popularity called “The New French Extreme”. I rented this movie off of a recommendation and, while I’m a die-hard horror fan girl, this is the first movie that made me have to take a shower after watching it. I almost turned it off twenty minutes in.

Without giving away too much, Lucie was tortured as a young girl, it’s not made clear for how long. She was held captive in what looks like a factory or a meat-packing plant. One day, she escapes during feeding time. We then see her in a childrens’ mental ward along with Anna, another girl who becomes her friend and care taker. After a time in the hospital, we flash forward to them as adults, probably in their late twenties or early thirties. Lucie is getting revenge on the people who she is sure tortured her, yet Anna has her doubts. Lucie is mentally unstable, seeing monsters (with the tone of the film at the beginning it’s hard to tell if it’s a hallucination or something tangible) and having nightmares. She kills the family of her former captors and the woman who tortured her. Anna goes to help clean up the mess and that’s when there’s a major twist in the story. It turns out Lucie and Anna’s problem goes deeper than what it seems.

This movie has graphic scenes of torture. In movies like “Hostel” or “Saw”, characters are annoying and are just there to die. In “Martyrs”, the girls are very sympathetic. When Lucie is seen as a young teen having those terrible thing happen to her, it’s hard to watch. The audience just wants the girls to get out ok. That’s what made me want to turn it off. I didn’t want to see what was coming; if they got out or not.

The ending was shocking and disturbing. Something one of the characters says has a few different ways it could be interpreted and the movie ends in a way that will never explain what she means. But that shot, unfortunately, does not close out the film. It ends on a very disturbing image and fades to black.

“Martyrs” is a fairly difficult film to stomach. Unless you’re desensitized to things like this, I would not recommend watching this. Before the movie starts on the DVD, the director gives a forewarning. I laughed it off at first but after the credits rolled, I knew what he meant. He basically said that he’s still having second guesses about making this film. If director is saying that, maybe you should have second thoughts about watching it.



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