After been physically and mentally abused, a little girl grows up, and with her childhood friend, they seek revenge against the people who tortured her as a child, not knowing though how deep that hellish rabbit hole goes.
Martyrs was shocking the first time in watched it in 2008 and it was excruciating last night. I guess the years pass by and our levels of tolerance change according to the lives we have lived and the way we have lived them. As much I despise happy endings, this is the first time I was hoping for one while knowing that it doesn’t have any. There is nothing I can say that will give justice to the film’s level of brutality, a concept that is not unknown to the French school of horror [see Haute Tension (2003)] and Martyrs, not only doesn’t hold any punches but unleashes them full force like only few horrors ever have. And the studios released that film knowing exactly what feelings it will evoke and the reactions it will cause.
Admittedly, writer/director Pascal Laugier was in a dark place during that period and shot, arguably, one of the most intense, violent, psychological, dramatic, and torturous horrors in the history of the genre. There are twists and turns in every corner, most of which, will cut your breath. There are scenes that you will want to look away and you will not be able to. At times, you will find yourselves squeezing your chair, pillow or yourselves while your brain tries to process the pain, especially Anna, endures. I guess, you may even blame yourselves for knowing what’s happening and not being able to help…
I bought the DVD knowing what I was signing up for. If you are not aware, I host the Cinehorrizon podcast where I deeply sink my teeth into the horror genre. I am in the process of trying to find Laugier and bring him on my show. There is so much I want to ask him and discuss with him. Laugier has mastered twists in his own, unique way and The Tall Man (2012) was his next proof. Two years ago, he came back with a yet another provocative horror that can ultimately mess up with your brain – Incident in a Ghostland (2018) – and even though it lacks the level of physical abuse, the psychological, for better or for worse, compensates for it. It was one of my earliest reviews: https://kaygazpro.com/2018/11/29/incident-in-a-ghostland-2018-drama-horror-mystery/ Going back to Martyrs, I would like to take my hat off to Morjana Alaoui and Mylène Jampanoï for taking on roles that their characters are thrown into the deepest ends of human depravity.
Hostel (2005) and The Human Centipede (2009) are purely torture for entertainment and, simply put, disgusting. In Martyrs, you can sense a diabolical reason; a distorted and hair-raising perverted meaning. There is an eerie feeling crawling under your skin that all this agonising torment is coming with a purpose. So, what is more scary? Torture with or without purpose. Without it, is pointless. But if there is one, one can only wonder what kind of purpose would that inhumane, chauvinistic, and hellish journey might serve? A question that will haunt you till the end. A paralysing end that will make you pull your hair out and ask out loud, why didn’t she just leave earlier?