DVD Review: Martyrs.

When the movie begins with an introduction from the director telling you to drop any preconceived notions of what you think this film could be... and then he apologizes to you for what you're about to watch (after admitted he sometimes hates himself for making it, and sometimes feels very proud of himself for making it)... you know you're in for something. Well... something is, indeed, what you get.

15 years after Lucie (Mylene Jampanoi) escapes a torturous imprisonment, she garners the aid of her friend, Anna (Morjana Alaoui), to find the people who did it and get her revenge. But what happens next isn't quite what either of them (especially Anna) had in mind.

What seems like a very simplistic plot turns out to be much more than that. And just like the director says, this is really an experience different from many other horror films. Yet at the same time, it's somewhat similar. Like most recent torture porn, the movie is unrelenting in its blood and gore. Unlike recent torture porn, however, the movie's story takes a deeper turn.

The first half of the movie and the second half of the movie are like two separate entities. Though, unlike the recently reviewed Tokyo Zombie, the two halves mesh better together (mostly because the second half attempts to be an explanation for the first half). The first half of the movie, to me, is the better half. It's more of a thriller and a mystery (with copious amounts of blood). And, mostly, it leaves you going "what the hell is going on?" I really had no idea where the movie was going to take me next... and I enjoyed that rare experience.

But then the second half starts up, and this is more where the torture porn tag kicks in. In an attempt not to spoil anything (and it's really hard to say anything about this film without spoiling something), it's a lot of... well... torture. But it's the same thing over and over again. For roughly 30+ minutes. It gets kinda boring, actually. It does show an evolution of character, but it's like watching Evey's torture scenes from V For Vendetta without all the intertwined backstory and interviewing about V's whereabouts (including the head shaving). There's no dialogue, no real talking whatsoever... it's just the same torturous moments over and over again in short fade-in/fade-out scenes.

To use a metaphor, this movie is like a research paper. Before you get all boggled, let me explain. In a research paper, you must have a thesis statement... a purpose to the paper. And with this thesis statement, there needs to be a declaration of "So What?" Why am I reading/writing this? What's the point? Why should I or anybody else care? Now this thesis, along with the "so what," usually comes near the beginning of the paper. Sometimes the "so what" is extended through with the thesis and put around the middle. The rarest is to put it all at the end, because you have to be a pretty damn good writer to pull that off--you have to be able to write a paper that makes sense and works without a clear statement of what the hell your point is until the end.

This is what this movie attempted to do: it tried to not only put the "thesis" in the middle of the film, but also kept the "so what?" until the very end. And that specific combination is very dangerous, because you don't even get an idea of what you're dealing with until you've given your full attention for at least 45 minutes, and then you don't get any kind of point explanation until it's done and overwith. But by that point, you're probably too flabbergasted or confused or disinterested to even care. So did this film actually pull it off? Yes and no. It lost me through almost the entire second half of the film, which isn't good. However, the explanation, while not a major enough twist to change my thoughts completely, was decent enough for me to go "Oh, alrighty then."

So how was the movie otherwise? I can only discuss acting in the first half, in which it was pretty good. The blood was realistic, as well. The cinematography and camera use was done quite nicely. There were some pretty good shots and angles. And, dare I say, a few creepy moments. The movie wasn't really scary, though. It's just somewhat uncomfortable. Is it the most disturbing and bloody film I've ever seen (as it's proclaimed to be)? No. But it is infinitely more disturbing than the last movie that attempted to take that title (Hostel, which was just stupid).

Would I recommend it? If you're a horror fan or a gorehound, sure. I'd say at least give it one watch. Though if you don't like horror or gore, stay away. Overall, it has a decent story--nothing groundbreaking, but decent. I just wish the second half would have taken a different path (instead of going a Hostel-esque route).

I Am McLovin!


  1. just saw the movie... i thought it was pretty good... probably rate it 3 out of 4 stars... also, ur review is pretty dead on without spoiling... however, i'm still confused about the ending, why did the mademoiselle do what she did at the end?


    It was my interpretation that they did this whole martyrs thing, because that's the closest anybody can ever get to God and learning the meaning of life, etc. So at the end, the main chick whispers the meaning of life to mademoiselle, but she realizes that it cannot be shared with the living, so she kills herself. Either that, or she's lived her whole life waiting for that moment, and now that she obtained what she wanted, she had no more reason to live. Or quite possibly a mix of the two.

  3. Yeah, i just saw the ending again... i think ur right about it being a mixture of both... but what tripped me out more was wondering what the girl actually said to the mademoiselle... after seeing it again, when mademoiselle asks one of her followers if he ever wondered what the afterlife was like, and he answers never... she then responds by saying keep doubting and kills herself... i believe she killed herself because she found out that there was no afterlife... who knows... but anyways, thanx for the quick response... u have a great blog.


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