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Finally a movie that martyrs...
headwound-131 August 2008
i was lucky enough to see this masterpiece at Frightfest this year.

Pascale Laugier's worried about this movie. He was apologising to people who despised it, he was profusely thanking the people who liked it. He is the modern day equivalent of Victor Frankenstein. He knows that he has created a monster and doesn't really know how to deal with it now that it's being released upon the world.

Martyrs truly is a monster. It's a ground breaking, brave, stunning, brutal & moving piece of work that is guaranteed to divide audiences everywhere it gets the chance to play. Even at a genre event like Frightfest the audience reaction ranged from 'loved it' to 'hated it' to people actually going outside of the cinema to be physically sick (really). For me it was the highlight of the festival and i absolutely loved it but I don't believe it's a movie that anybody will truly 'enjoy'.

As others have already given away too much of the story i won't bother with a synopsis as Martyr's is definitely a dish best served cold. Not knowing what to expect makes this a refreshingly shocking piece of celluloid that will hopefully astound you with it's gutsy originality. Written by the director during a fit of depression (that he did not elaborate on in the Q&A) it is an almost schizophrenic movie with two distinct halves and coda of such ambiguity that it is possible to view it as nihilistic or strangely hopeful. It's beautifully shot, really well paced and contains outstanding performances from the two female leads.

This movie is inevitably going to be compared to Hostel and other movies in the horribly monickered 'torture-porn' genre and that is a genuine mistake. Martyrs bears more resemblance to movies like Nacho Cerda's Aftermath as there is nothing here that is designed to be titillating. The true horror lies in the the clinical detachment of the antagonists. In the end, despite all the on screen violence (and there are some truly brutal scenes on display here in the movies second act) the prevaling reaction that this movie elicited in me was not one of revulsion but one of true sadness. Martyrs really is a truly brilliant, surprisingly moving film and one that will remain in my mind, jostling for attention with my other thoughts for a very long time to come. Thankyou Pascale Laugier for creating a monster that i love...
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FredSlim10 March 2009
Warning: Spoilers
What an experience. I'm a big horror fan and am happy watching and enjoying 'popcorn' slasher movies for what they are but really the genre is crying out for more pictures that truly assault the senses.

The French are particularly adept at painting bleak, unforgiving landscapes as well as thrusting you right into the action but rarely have I experienced anything quite so memorable as Martyrs.

Comparisons will (and have) been drawn with Hostel, Saw, Hellraiser and others but this is really rather misleading. Further comparisons have been drawn with Inside, Frontiers, Funny Games etc. and while slightly more credible in that atmosphere and psychology play a far greater part, none come close to Martyrs.

I'd challenge anyone not to be affected by this movie. It's gory, but you won't laugh. It's shocking, but you won't be able to look away. 24 hours later it's still running through my mind and if I see a better horror movie than this this year, I'll be truly amazed.

As much as I'd love to write more this is most certainly a film you should watch knowing as little as possible. Suffice to say the acting, cinematography, score, atmosphere and unbridled tension combine to create one of the most engaging films in this genre of the last two decades.

Watch it. Recommend it (it won't be easy) and let's hope Martyrs gets the credit it deserves.
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More like Noé and Grandrieux
Onderhond11 November 2008
Warning: Spoilers
French horror has been pushing the boundaries for some time now. First there was Haute Tension, then A l'Intérieur and newest in line is Martyrs, hyped up to take it all a little further. And it did, it definitely did. It's just that it doesn't belong in the same list as the films mentioned before. Martyrs goes way beyond.

Those expecting another fun, bloody, gory, insane horror flick can just up and leave, because Martyrs isn't like that. While it borrows the horror from films like A l'Intérieur and Haute Tension, the tone and effect of the film is much closer to Irréversible or better yet, Grandrieux's La Vie Nouvelle.

All these films belong to the French Extreme wave, a rather broad line of films of different backgrounds and themes, but all bearing an unrelentless level of extremity. And Martyrs stands proudly at the top of that list, even though Laugier himself seems a little hesitant to claim all credits for his film.

Martyrs starts off like you'd expect a bleak, raw and pitch black horror flick to start off. Only minutes into the film, bodies start flying and guts is spilled royally. Strangely though, there's no joy, limbs are flying enjoyment to be found. The presentation is cold, the characters are emotionally wrangled, the tension is harsh. Lucie, the main characters and victim of a year long torture plan, evokes the sympathy of the viewer and plays it out incredibly well.

The first half of the film keeps balancing on borderline horror, keeping its crude and dark exterior, but never crossing any boundaries. A Grudge-like ghost in added to the film, but Laugier stays close to the drama and never allows the film to become a mere horror flick. Things take a turn for the worse around halfway through, where the torture theme of the film is given even more power as Anna, Lucie's guardian, discovers the truth about the torture/kidnap story of the past.

From that moment on, the film becomes really uncomfortable to watch and crosses over to the realm of Noé and Grandrieux. We are witness of cold and painful torture scenes, driven to very unpleasant extremes nearing the end. The film follows the methods of the people who torture, which are based on repetition and endurance, making it all the harder to sit through.

In a rather surprising move, this film was released in theaters in Belgium by one of the most prestigious labels here, the reason for that is laid bare in the second half of the film. Rather that simply serve a story of horror and torture, Laugier digs deeper into the human mind. The idea behind Martyrs is not futile nor easily forgotten. There's a whole point to the film, elevating is above all its reference points (Saw and Hostel - sadly enough).

Martyrs is in a whole different league and is everything a film like Funny Games should have been. A definite assault to the gut, extremely graphic and to the point, without ever flinching or resolving to silly tricks to get a point across. It's a film only a director with love for the genre could make (remember that Mr Haneke, after two pointless attempts) and Laugier doesn't let down.

Visually, the film is well shot, though nothing out of the ordinary. The make-up on the other hand deserves some praise, same as the leading ladies who play their parts with conviction and depth (at one point Anna even shows a creepy resemblance to Falconetti in Jeanne d'Arc) . Essential to the film and certainly not an easy task.

Don't watch Martyrs to get a little horror kick, or to indulge in silly gorefests. This film will not deliver the fun thrills of regular horror movies, on the contrary. It's a bleak, depressive but all the more impressive look in the darker depths of the human condition, it will leave you cringing in your seat and it will make you want to look away. And it does so without ever numbing you down.

One of the most impressive films I've seen this year, a definite favorite and one that'll receive my further support through a DVD purchase, though I have no idea when or if I'll watch it again. Laugier uses every bit of skill he has to make Martyrs as painful as possible, and reaches further than any other has. A very solid 4.5*/5.0*, though no recommendation from my side. Definitely not a film for everyone.
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Most disturbing film I've ever seen
merielmyers-3848112 September 2018
Don't listen to the poor reviews on here - this is actually a masterpiece in horror but it's very difficult to watch.. It's dark. bleak and incredibly disturbing and despite this being one of the best films I've seen I could never watch it again..
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Nightmare inducing, wish I could un-watch it.
thekarmicnomad13 September 2011
I write my reviews based on two factors, how much I enjoyed watching the movie and how much I enjoy thinking back about it. This movie I don't want to think back to.

This was well produced, well acted and the story is engaging.

But the content is just too horrific. I sat though Saw and Hostel they were OK. This I found really disturbing. I fast forwarded at one point and was privy to watching some poor devil receive a year long kick-in condensed into 6 minutes. As I am not a sado masachist I found these protracted scenes not only disturbing but dull.

I like horror, I like to be scared and when the lights come up think, 'wow, glad that wasn't me getting chopped up'. I feel like I am carrying this around with me.

If you like really gruesome stuff (note the actual gore isn't that bad) then go for it! You'll love this. But if you want to keep a handle on your humanity then stay blissfully unaware of this movie.
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emotional violence
bloodinthewater29 September 2008
this film is as terrifying as anything ever released. it takes events from modern headlines and carries them to horrible, but utterly believable extremes. performances, photography, editing, score, sound design, direction are all spot on.

i live in a neighborhood where people literally get stabbed in the street, and this film scared the hell out of me. it creates a tension that is almost unbearable, and then it breaks your heart. the genius of this film is the degree to which you empathize and grow to love the protagonist(s.)

i was skeptical when i was told about how people supposedly fainted in the theater when they saw it. after watching this film, i absolutely believe it. there is one scene in particular that made me dizzy.

don't watch it alone, and don't watch it if you think horror films are supposed to make you laugh. this film will make you cry.
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dante_leebo25 August 2008
The film was introduced by the film's writer director Pascal Laugier at this year's Frightfest in London. The organiser's referred to the film as "The film they most wanted" of the 28 shown at the festival. It was easy to see why. Of all the films I saw at this year's Frightfest, Martyrs was not my favourite but without a doubt it is the one that plays on my mind the most. The film has been compared to both Hostel and Hellraiser but I think it has a lot more substance than both of those films. The central performances are top notch and Jessie Pham as the young Lucie is very convincing, completely holding your attention. So why only 7 out of 10? As well made as this film is, the subject matter is just so utterly disturbing I wanted this film to end a long time before it actually did. It is not a film that is to be enjoyed. It is not the escapism that you may be looking for. The first Act is a revenge story on a family who may or may not have been responsible for the kidnapping and torture of a young girl 15 years previously. It is the second Act though that is the more disturbing. The viewer wants it to end almost as much as the girl captured wants her ordeal to end. This is a must-see movie but certainly one that is going to divide audiences right down the middle.
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Brave, brilliant, brutal...
rogergeorge12 September 2008
Having missed the opportunity to catch this at the Midnight Madness showing in TIFF08, I decided to go against all stated horror movie rules and watched this today around midday at a complex in downtown Toronto.. It's difficult to know what to say about this movie really; like a birth or a death, you really have to experience it yourself and draw your own conclusions. What I will say is that as a committed horror freak, rare is the occasion when I tense up and watch a film contorted, somehow trying to protect myself from what I'm putting myself through.. It contains enough tough to see horror/gore to satisfy the bloodhounds (though it doesn't feel like another attempt to up the gore ante for the sake of it, thankfully) and then - if you can watch it and many couldn't - transcends the genre totally with a jaw-dropping final act which if you're interested in the human condition and the capacity for seemingly normal people to do incredibly bad things will have you asking questions for some time to come and recognising that when horror and ideas mesh successfully, the result can be breathtaking. Absolutely not enjoyable but there again if you go to see a horror flick at a film festival and you know beforehand that it originally received an X-certificate in France, kicking up an almighty stink in the process - well, you know that an open mind is the least you can bring to bear. With that in mind I would recommend Martyrs as a film of incredible tension, harrowing physical violence and indelible imagery; unsurprisingly, the director name-checked Dario Argento during the Q&A as a major influence in his youth and there is a clear and confident signature in the work which suggests some parallels can be made between the two film-makers. I loved this movie and for those who have already posted comments good, bad or indifferent (and I really can't imagine a neutral response!) I hope like myself you have come away with a genuine sense of having seen something the like of which we are unlikely to see for some time..
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bizarre and beautiful (with a twist)
Kosinus20 August 2008
I wonder why so many compare this to movies like "hostel"...

There was only one movie coming up my mind after having seen this one: Clive Barker's "Hellraiser" (and other works from him...)

Other comparisons? OK, let's compare this to "high tension"... yes, we get realism. but then? There are too many movies recently that do nothing but hide their lack of spirit and story... in the end the audience is left alone without a believable motivation for what happened...

"Martyrs" is different. It's scary and disturbing. It's painful to watch and still there is some kind of relief. You may separate that movie into three segments... and the first two would make a whole movie on their own. What happens then takes the story to whole new level and the audience to a whole new perspective. With a cynical bang in the end.

I liked it.
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Greatest Movie Ill Never Watch Again
toe_tommy28 March 2009
Not knowing what to expect, and prejudice towards french films had me wondering if this was worth my precious time. Well it delivered for me movies have to meet 3 criteria:

1) Don't let figure out the ending.

This movie had me fooled but never confused. 2) Do something to keep me watching.

There were times when I was repulsed and disgusted by this movie

but couldn't stop watching it. 3) Evoke a emotional response

There wasn't a moment in this movie where i wasn't feeling

anxious or disturbed

This was a great movie and i would recommend everyone watches it but it should come with an extreme warning, this movie was not scary, it was disturbing and at time you'll feel ashamed of yourself for watching it. But, In the end you'll be glad you did.
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Existential Torture Porn?
mikeyboypaines29 August 2008
I too saw this at Frightfest with an audience full of horror fans. Unlike all the other films of the festival, there were no cheers when characters were bloodily dispatched. Equally there was no unintentionally funny dialogue to snigger at (Jack Bauer vs The Exorcist, anyone?).

What Martyrs did have was a suggestion of the emotional horrors (rather than simply the physical) endured by someone who has been tortured. That was the first half of the film. The second half shifted plot-wise and also provided us with a motivation (however twisted) for the abuse - far more creepy than simply entertainment for the sick, as with Hostel.

Despite it's bleakness I came out feeling uplifted, and evidently this was the director's intention. It could have been purely because this was the only film over the course of the weekend that had any intellectual aspirations, but it did succeed in eliciting strong reactions from the hardened horror audience, both positive and negative.

The nearest I can compare this too is Irreversible, but unlike Gasper Noé's film, I do feel that I can stomach another viewing of Martyrs, and the sooner the better.
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almost banned in France due to it's haunting brutality, This is the kind of film nightmares are made of
sinnerofcinema19 October 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Making its Stateside debut, Pascal Laugier's "Martyrs" was the grand finale to a spectacular constellation of fine horror films. "Martyrs" however, is not like a "SAW" or "HOSTEL" in which there are creative forms of torture served for your viewing pleasure, this film has an art house feel to it that leads into the bowels of depravity. It's demonstrates how evil man can be for the share pleasure of scientific research. It reminded me of a brochure that I received depicting the horrors of how animals are slaughtered for human consumption. If that is a brochure you'd rather not digest before dinner, "Martyrs" is the type of film you may not want to view on a full stomach. Brilliantly executed in ways better described only as experimental, Pascal Laugier takes us to the end of the tunnel, the last stop, to a place where there is no longer any separation between humans and animals, predators or prey, it' a place so dark, you will no longer have to imagine for now it has been recorded on celluloid. All the "SAW" or "HOSTEL" or any other torture porn created to date has nothing on "Martyrs". Why? Because they French know their cinema business like no other. They leave nothing up to the imagination and nothing is too taboo for them whereas here in America, filmmakers tend to like to draw certain lines when it comes to making horror films for shock value. "Martyrs" is one of the few crossover films that could play at a horror film festival, as well as a intellectually artsy festival or a gay & lesbian festival alike. It covers the gamut in storytelling and that is what makes this film so powerful and so inherently haunting ,it will carve many putrid memories in your phsyque long after viewing. I would not recommend this film to folks with weak stomachs.
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There are not many movies like this one...
kabeile22 September 2009
First of all: This movie is sick, really sick! It is disgusting. To watch it from the disturbing beginning to the relieving ending was painful and i think the writer/director needs some serious counseling! BUT: It's also a stunning piece of art.

The fundamental questions are: What does the writer/director want to express with this movie? What are his intentions? And: Does anyone need a movie that shows us every detail of ruthless slaughter, torture, skinning, beating and killing?

The Answer is: I AM STILL NOT SURE!!! But this is perhaps the reason, why this movie is a piece of art, not often watched in todays cinema. This movie is thought-provoking. It doesn't send you home with a few nice laughs, a see-through story and it isn't entertainment.

This movie only cares for the victims. This is why i think that the violence depicted is necessary. It doesn't make you numb. It even sharpens your sensitivity and you suffer with the victims while watching it.

Here in Germany, last week a man was beaten to death in the subway by two teenagers. He came to help some kids, that were molested by the two teenagers. I think a movie like MARTYRS could show those sickos what they do to their victims. This is why I think, that e.g. KILL BILL could be more "dangerous" than MARTYRS. Tarantino's movies (which i also adore) always follow the "bad guys" and show them as heroes, while the victims die off-screen. They show that violence is cool and funny. MARTYRS shows that violence is disgusting and sick!
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targosfan111 September 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I just got back from the midnight screening at TIFF, with a typical Midnight Madness audience that I would characterize as easy to please but difficult to impress. This film impressed us, as it was clearly a cut above (so to speak) the average genre film. The first act takes recent French horror films like High Tension, Inside and Frontiere(s) and shoves them into a hyper-violent blender. So far, so good. The second, far more emotionally grisly act elevates the cinematic experience to almost art-film heights, with sadly realistic parallels to our current insane world situation. Oh, there was a vomiting patron here, too.

The director was there along with the two lead actresses (who are looking much better now, I'm glad to say.) He told us that the film has secured distribution in 40 French-speaking countries, but that he hopes it will be viewed elsewhere on DVD only, to ensure that we see it uncut. Someone asked a question that referenced Michael Haneke's Funny Games, (I didn't quite hear the whole question, as the person was well back in the theater) but it really set M. Laugier off -- he denounced FG as "shit" and proclaimed his film "the anti-Funny Games." He was fine with the hour and a half brutalization of an innocent family, but felt strongly that it didn't have a sufficient point to make, or justification for the violence - "it just ends." I'm not sure I feel that way about FG, but it was interesting to hear his opinion. It's hard to discuss how Martyrs backs up it's pretension to be superior without spoiling it, however. To echo another comment, you'll have to see for yourself. Enjoy (not!)
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Whats wrong with the French??
dschmeding15 August 2008
Warning: Spoilers
It seems like every year you get a new french movie that the horror community talks anxious about mainly because of its boundary breaking shocks. After last years direct hit to the head "A l'interior" and the to me rather weak "Frontieres" this year its "Martyrs" which is supposed to raise the bar another bit and i start to wonder what makes the french go that berserk and over the top lately.

Forsure "Martyrs" is different and delivers some memorable scenes punched in your memory, so it sure is another sign of Euro-Horror taking the top. The movie starts of with a child fleeing its prison and running frightened from years of abuse into freedom. Lucie is picked up, her prison is found but she doesn't talk about what happened and her torturers are never found. This is where the first part of the movie starts which is kind of divided into sub-plots. Lucie is shown growing up in a foster home, making friends with Anna, another foster child. Lucie doesn't talk to anyone about what happened, she is haunted by fears, sees demons and only seems to connect to Anna. The second part is a harsh time jump to 15 Years later. A seemingly happy family is having a Saturday breakfast the door rings and Lucie takes them out with a shotgun. She has identified her torturers from a newspaper photo and came for revenge and closure, When cleaning up the mess with Anna Lucie sees a demon like girl following her through the house and cutting her with a knife. After some creepy ghost scares it turns out its just her imagination of girl she left behind when fleeing as a child. Anna doesn't seem to believe all the story Lucie told her because we soon see the cuttings are self inflicted and only Lucie sees the girl as a manifestation of her schizophrenia which ends in her finally slicing her own throat. Part Three begins where Anna is left alone in the house with her dead friend not sure what happened and how to handle the situation. By a pretty stupid turn of events she finds a secret door to an underground dungeon and it soon becomes evident that Lucies depictions of her torture were true. Anna searches through the dungeons and soon finds the girl Lucie left behind shackled and blindfolded. She tries to help her and remove the blindfold which is bolted to her head but the girl like Lucie soon tries to kill herself. Part Four and the finale begins, so there is some majors spoilers ahead... The girl runs wild through the house and is suddenly shot by a group of strangers who reveal the story: Asick religious group believes that a suffering person can see beyond death in their final stage of martyrdom and reveal the secrets to life and death. Now Anna relives what Lucie suffered and is brought to the dungeon. From here on a seemingly endless part shows her being fed, being beaten, having her hair shaved and all this in an endless repetition until she breaks apart. This is not gory, rather unpleasant in its repetitive inhumanity. To make a long story short... Anna falls apart, talking to her dead friend Julie who tells her to give herself up to stop the suffering and when she does the final stage awaits in which Anna is skinned until she finally enters Martyrdom depicted as a trip hallucinogenic "light at the end of the tunnel" sequence. She whispers her experience into the old lady's ear and the sick cult soon gathers to witness its Martyr and the old ladies testimony. Unfortunately we never hear it, but can rather imagine when the old lady puts a gun in her mouth. The End.

I am very ambivalent with this movie... It is a nice mixture of a drama (especially the childhood part and Lucies suicide) with classic horror/ghost scare and shock elements and big load of "torture porn" thrown in at the end blended in with some religious and metaphysical hints. Anna becomes a kind of Jesus Christ and the image of a skinned girl looking to heaven sure is a logical step in depicting a person in total suffering equal to the crucifixion and to my understanding equally sick just visually more direct.

The four parts are all told in a very different style ... its like drama, ghost-horror, a little dungeon exploring and darkness, some superficial explaining, torture and some more drama. Martyrs sure is an interesting movie but it has some pretty stretched passage. If people leave the cinema its because they can't take another five minutes of seeing a girl beaten either because its unsettling or just plain idiotic and voyeuristic. I sure get the meaning in showing Anna fall apart but I think this and the skinning which is not even shown is what people are shocked about. The interweaving of the movie parts was kind of forced which put me off. Why the hell do they stay in the house, how could the children of the family not know about a high tech torture dungeon under their living room (or did they?), why does Anna find the dungeon and go in there on her own and if the cult is so eager to find the answer why is there just one girl although the dungeon looks like an industrial complex and what about that cult anyway?!

Its hard to compare the movie to anything else. Most comparisons are about the movies being all french, seeking for new boundaries and the main characters being girls. But they are all different and where "A l'interior" mixes Thriller- and Splatter-Elements "Martyrs" rather mixes Horror- and Drama-Elements... maybe the tear squeezing mixing with horror scares is what shocks people. Strange thing is... to me the scenes of Lucie fleeing as a child was one of the most shocking and I even knew them from the trailer.
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A masterpiece of Modern Horror
aseneca-112 November 2008
Warning: Spoilers
To avoid fainting, keep repeating : it's only a movie,...But this time it is for real.

I will start off by saying that Martyrs is probably the most shocking horror film in a very long time, the concept of a revenge-flick upgraded to extremes.The French have been known for making extremely violent flicks over the past few years and this time it was Pascal Laugier's turn to provide us with a movie that is meant to be more shocking than entertaining, the reason why horror movies were made back in the seventies. And indeed, Martyrs is an unapologetic throwback to the seventies-horror flicks( the likes of The Last House On The Left and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre come to mind ) but Laugier uses the methods he can use and makes it even more shocking than these films are.

Apart from being the most shocking and disturbing horror movie in this long time ( were the aforementioned titles or Cannibal Holocaust were just very disturbing),this film is also very scary and creepy : i can stomach a lot but at some parts in this movie I really was creep-ed out and scared to death. This is an extremely scary movie. The script is absolutely fantastic : it manages to combine 3-4 different happenings into one movie and contains several nods to other recent horror-works or to the classics without falling into plagiarism. Then we also have the direction of Pascal Laugier :It isn't anything we haven't seen before but he certainly is a man who knows how to build up and it shows during a lot of the scenes where he manages to keep the audience very tense and frightened. He is a man who takes a very poetic approach to the visuals and really, some of the visuals are very beautiful. Just like Xavier Gens did with Frontière(s), Laugier manages to give his film a very polished look while still keeping it dirty. The whole movie has some sort of atmosphere of dread, just like Hooper's TCM had. Yes, you have read it: Martyrs is a very atmospheric movie. The acting is very credible, especially from the two main actresses. I was sold. And then there's the gore : Laugier didn't want to make a blood-fest.Well it turned out to be some sort of a gorepic, but obvious it wasn't the director's main target. The gore is NOT the kind of gore the audience likes to see. This isn't a film where you really are waiting for the next victim to be bloodily dispatched, the violence in this film is much worse than anything that is shown in movies like Hostel,Wrong Turn 2,... It isn't as gory, there are no geysers of blood and maybe this isn't real gore. Gore is supposed to be fun this is much worse : it is realistic violence, graphic as all hell and incredibly difficult to stomach. Keep in mind that this isn't a happy-go-slashing slasher-film but I will say there are some really disgusting scenes which are hard to stomach, even for the real gore-hounds (like myself) due to the way the violence is portrayed. Compliments for Laugier to create a film that really does shock us with its explicit violence, just like Noe's Irreversible did.

The soundtrack also is worth mentioning, it is experimental but it really works. It is at times a very melancholic type of soundtrack but very memorable. I won't spoil anything for you, but I will tell you something about the end of the movie. Making it through the last 20 minutes of Martyrs is a tough task. This part of the movie is extremely sad, but ends up being very poetic and very beautiful. The very end of the movie is almost cynical, without becoming comedic. The movies stays true to its dark roots and will leave you saddened. That being said: people looking for an entertaining slasher-film will be very disappointed, but people looking for a film that will be remembered for a very long time and that will be talked about like they still talk about some of the shocking classics should give this movie a try. Like somebody already mentioned, this movie veers closer to Irreversible than to ,lets say, Inside or Haute Tension to which it has been compared. And I wonder what the MPAA would make of this. Again, NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART !!!
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Profoundly hard to watch
afreakingwizard20 July 2018
Martyrs is one of the creepiest, violent, and disturbing movies I've seen in a good while. It may just be that it plays on several fears of mine, but I found Martyrs to be one of the hardest movies for me to sit through. I think one of the most important aspects of the movie is it's abundance of violence and gore. Obviously it's not the only thing that makes the movie terrifying, but seeing such realistic depictions of cutting, beating, and mutilation really leave one hell of an impact. The plot of Martyrs may not be the best, but the way it's told is enough that while watching the movie, it feels like a much better story than if someone were to sit down and explain it. More than half the movie has no dialogue whatsoever for up to 10 minutes at a time, which allows the viewer to interpret most of it however they want. I can't really comment on the acting as it's a foreign film, but I can say that the music and sound design are absolutely perfect even if some of the cinematography leaves something to be desired at times. Fans of horror are probably going to enjoy Martyrs, but I would have a really hard time recommending it to anyone outside of that demographic.
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Like a Bad Car Crash
Carrigon3 May 2009
Warning: Spoilers
You just can't look away from this monstrosity of a film. I won't go into full plot details because so many comments here already contain the full plot. I can give a quick condensed version. Here there be SPOILERS.

Lucie escapes from a cult that was torturing her as a child. She has to leave behind another girl and becomes haunted by the vision of that girl. Fifteen years later, Lucie sees a newspaper photo of the couple who tortured her. She goes to their house and kills the entire family. She calls her best friend Anna to come and help her. Anna gets there and has doubts as to whether this was the right family. Lucie kills herself.

After Lucie dies, Anna discovers a hidden section of the house. And she discovers the girl Lucie left behind all those years ago. And the girl is still alive, but so badly tortured, she is beyond real help.

Cult members arrive and kill the tortured girl. They take Anna and then subject her to the same tortures that Lucie and the other girl suffered from. Mostly, it's scenes of this man beating her very badly. And she's chained up a lot. It gets really nasty. There is no fun watching this. It's very much like torture scenes from Hostel.

Finally, they skin Anna alive and she has what they think is a divine vision, which is what they were after. She tells the head of the cult the vision. We never hear what Anna says. The head of the cult commits suicide. End of movie.

It sucked. First of all, this is not a real horror film. It's a whole other genre. It is torture porn no matter what fanboyz keep claiming. There's a big difference between a horror film that has scary monsters and such that we have fun with, and something like this which just goes to extremes and shows violence just to really show a lot of violence.

I really don't like this new trend in films. And the French seem to be running with it now. If you like regular horror movies, I don't think you will like this movie. If you are into Hostel type films, you'll like it.

To me, this film just promoted violence and torture of women and it was clearly stated in the film that only women did well as being victims. I didn't like this movie at all.
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Disturbing Toture With No Point
ajpatane9 May 2009
Warning: Spoilers
As some have said, you either love this film or you hate it. The film's extremely disturbing torture and violence serves no purpose other than to make the viewer cringe for its victims. While this may be the goal of a typical horror film, this film takes large strides to make the torture something realistic, something that could really happen, and, therefore, all the more harrowing. Once the audience understands this, it expects something more than just typical slasher fare - it expects something deeper and thought provoking. It expects the film to use the torture to make a point. Unfortunately, it never does.

The first half of the film culminates in an unoriginal reveal that the viewer expects long before it is made. The first half sets up the second half, which, while making use of a truly terrifying basement torture chamber, goes through torture scene after scene in effort to make the viewer feel the pain of its victim. Having seen that real life torture chambers like this exist, the notion is truly frightening. However, the point of these scenes is made after three of them and the remainder become unenduringly repetitive, pushing the film into overkill - to the point the viewer is so disturbed s/he no longer wants to watch. I fast forwarded through the second 1/2 of these scenes and hung on through the remainder of the film only because I knew the end was near and I was expecting something huge to make sense of everything.

While the film succeeds in repulsing the viewer with the depravity of humanity and the horror the victims endure, the film fails to use this to any admirable advantage. One expects more from a film that goes to pains to make the suffering so realistic. And that is the problem: the film is not a popcorn slasher film, one which the viewer goes to for a light-hearted "scare," but which is ultimately an unrealistic "horror" film; rather, the film conjures up feelings of discomfort and unease because what is happening could really happen. I disagree that the film makers were doing this just to put depravity on the screen. I think they had a real goal of conveying some deep concept or revealing something thought-provoking behind the debauchery.

Unfortunately, we learn all the depravity and suffering were the result of an unclear scientific desire of the wealthy to learn what happens after death. The audience is probably supposed to feel some sort of horror or discomfort at this. But, the ending is not clearly developed and fails to plant enough seeds for thought after the film is over. Thus all that came before the ending, makes no sense. And to put the torture on screen without making a good point causes the viewer to question its purpose.
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The only thing worse than torture-porn, is pretentious torture-porn.
rigpa25 July 2009
Really, this film adds nothing valuable. The real philosophical issue could have been presented in less than ten minutes. The rest of it is nothing but torture-pron. This means that torture, suffering and confusion is the main point of the film. The only thing in doubt is whether the "philosophical" issue has been added to pretend like it's a real movie, or if it was added intentionally to try and "get away with it".

Watch it if you are one of those sickos who enjoy watching helpless suffering (but you might spend your time and money better at a therapists).

Or watch it with some friends, take note of who seems to enjoy watching it, and never call them again.
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Gory and harrowing
emacs7211 September 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I attended the Midnight Madness screening of Martyrs at the 33rd Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).

The first hour and a bit of Martyrs was quite effective in delivering unsettling imagery and sounds. Elements of child abuse is something that is certainly unnerving so it's subtext in the film added to the creepiness factor. the gore had it's place; it wasn't presented just for the sake of gore in of itself. Special makeup effects artist Benoît Lestang who passed away several weeks ago (as noted by director Pascal Laugier during the Q/A session after the screening) did a remarkable job to showing the brutal effects of violent physical injuries. The audience reaction is typical MM stuff: audible gasps, rolls of nervous laughter, loud and appreciative applause to truly gruesome scenes and other good stuff.

The last thirty minutes of the film held the audience in almost complete silence. The lack of any crowd reaction, aside from the revelation of what happened to Anna in her final stage, was due to the harrowing endurance test they and Anna (played by Morjana Alaoui) went through. The film turned from a highly engaging gore flick into a sad and rather depressing reflection of human suffering.

I had a strong reaction to the film that lead me to appreciate it on its dramatic and production levels. The filmmakers and actresses obviously had a lot of trust among themselves to deliver this film. after the screening Pascal Laugier, Morjana Alaoui and Mylène Jamanoï went up onstage to answer questions from MM programme director Colin Geddes and several members of the audience. Pascal fielded most of the questions while Morjana and Mylène nervously chimed in with their responses (mainly because neither of them speak English natively nor are they accustomed being infront of such a massive crowd of people). The Q/A session did get a bit awkward because some killjoy decided to challenge Pascal on why he made Martyrs. As to the context in which Martyrs was first conceived, Pascal mentioned he is going through deeply personal issues which (unsurprisingly) translated themselves, quite graphically, into Martyrs.

I'm pretty sure Martyrs is too intense for the general public so don't expect a wide theatrical release of the film. I could go on much further but that would necessitate revealing plot points and specific scenes.
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Masterpiece - not watching this again.
Rapand20214 December 2019
Wow. Great film. Terrible experience. I'm torn about this film. On one hand it's exceptionel. On the other hand It's horrible to watch. I will not recommend this film. However it is a masterpiece. Watch at your own risk.
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This movie is really good
ebogart-1164520 September 2019
I really love this movie. I don't want to spoil anything but it's definitely a more brutal movie than what most people would want. I thought the plot was good throughout the most part. Acting was really really good. I liked how it had meaning at the end and motives were clear. Makes you think.
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This is a very hard to watch and really scary movie.
KalyaniRamanan14 July 2019
Martyrs is amazing. I've never seen another movie quite like it. I waited a very long time to see this, and I was not disappointed. If you don't have a weak constitution, see this immediately. Sacry
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This is truly horrible, terrible and atrocious beyond words. The worst.
lagriff0527 June 2009
Warning: Spoilers
This is probably the worst thing I've ever seen. I mean…really? OK, fine, you put out a movie that is gratuitously violent and highly disturbing, but that's really all it is; not much real horror at all, besides the slight horror I felt when I looked at the time of the movie and saw that I still had a half hour left.

Half the time this isn't even really gross so much as just impossibly annoying and unpleasant. So what, we get an hour of crap with this psychotic lesbian named Lucie tormenting her caring, nurturing friend, who is quite visibly torn between her loyalty and the fact that, I don't know, Lucie just murdered a whole house of people (!!!! stupid do you have to be to even think about this, seriously; DITCH HER NOW AND RUN FOR YOUR LIFE), then another half hour of the poor innocent best friend girl locked in a basement being beaten, force-fed and finally f*cking skinned alive, before an uninspired and uncreative ending that left me feeling empty and impartial to any of the characters or meanings that were attempted to be conveyed here. I guess the best part of the movie is the first part, because it is genuinely pretty suspenseful and tense, but it drags on for waaaay too long and loses whatever suspense it was building up to, replacing it instead with…well, annoyance at the Lucie character, really.

The rest is just dung. Can anyone explain how that family went so long without the kids finding out about the huge underground torture chamber their parents had in the basement? Surely there must have been at least one day where one of them was home sick from school and must have gotten the gist that something was awry. That's a plot hole that needs tending to immediately.

The religious and Nazi implications here, as vague and off-kilter as they may be, are disturbing and highly objectionable, and bring down any enjoyment one could ever derive from this mediocre piece of crap. Not only do they shave the girl's head in the third act during her torture, they also bury the bodies of the dead unceremoniously in a giant hole...gee, does that sound familiar at all to you?

...It's really one thing to watch a movie about a teenage girl holding a rapist and pedophile hostage and threatening to castrate him, and it's one thing to watch a movie where a psychotic, rejected lesbian wreaks havoc on her unsuspecting lover's family with a chainsaw, but a movie like this…it goes too far, to the point where it doesn't matter. It's like this movie had to have a neon light over its head flashing LOOK AT ME, I'M SICK AND TWISTED. You know, as if the director didn't have any ideas of his own, so he had to resort to the most stock and clichéd offensive things in the book. The other stuff is there for a reason, for some purpose that is general and unbiased, but this doesn't work. It inspires nothing in the viewer but the question of whether or not he or she should really be watching the movie, thus depriving and desensitizing said viewer of the ultimate "horror" at the ending - not a very good ploy.

And let's talk about meanings, here, too, why not? This movie is supposedly deep and meaningful, but really it's just retarded. The ending sucks, completely contrived and hollow. Ooh, let's be all philosophical and spiritual, that justifies the hour and a half of ridiculous torture pornography, terrible directing and The Unborn-rejected ghost scenes we stuck in there before! I also really love how they call this movie Martyrs, because a martyr was always a poor, screaming, skinny French girl who was forced to be where she was, rather than choosing it, right?

God, this sucks; just forget this trash ever existed. It isn't scary, it isn't meaningful and it isn't compelling even one bit. No disgust, no horror, just a quiet, disapproving shake of the head and a move of the hand towards the remote to turn it off. It doesn't inspire horror or disgust, it just inspires anger and annoyance, and if that's what this director wanted to do (offend), then he succeeded: I hate this movie, I hate the director, I hate the studio that produced it, I hate anyone who would find pleasure in watching it. It is the lowest form of cinematic dung possible. There is nothing worse; there has never been anything worse. Unspeakably, wholly unwatchable.
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