Critics Consensus: A real polarising movie, this Gallic torture-porn is graphic, brutal, nasty and gruesome and not to everyone's taste.
No Top Critics Tomatometer score yet...
Tells the story of Anna, once a missing little girl, found wandering a year later on a country road virtually catatonic after suffering some sort of physical abuse. She grows into a comely young woman, but she's got serious issues. She also has a close friend, Lucie, who she ultimately calls after she finds herself in an unusual house in the middle of the forest. There's something very disturbing about the Bauhaus-esque home, something Anna can't quite put her finger on.
- R (for disturbing/severe aberrant behavior involving strong bloody violence, toture, child abuse and some nudity)
- Drama , Horror , Art House & International
- Directed By:
- Pascal Laugier
- Written By:
- Pascal Laugier
- In Theaters:
- May 1, 2008 Wide
- On DVD:
- Mar 24, 2009
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Critic Reviews for Martyrs
The stylishly mounted first half zips along at a rate of knots while the gruesome make-up work will keep your gag reflex in violent spasm.
Film should score OK with hardcore gore fans, but others will expect martyrdom for sticking it out until the end.
Martyrs is a groundbreaking work - it challenges the audience to endure heinous acts yet to emerge spiritually cleansed; to witness man's willingness to abuse, degrade and manipulate, yet leave the theatre more enamoured with humanity than ever.
Laugier puts the screws on us all, in a contemplative and ambiguous final-act interrogation (delivered in a whisper) of the contradictory motives involved in bearing witness to such horrors.
Brutally well-conceived... for about 40 minutes, and then Martyrs flips on its own bloody axis and falls apart, existentially.
Some call it torture porn, others might call it aggressive moralising, more still have say it's boring and pointless. In my view this level of dissent marks it as worthwhile.
it turns out to be concerned precisely with the nature and reception of extremity, posing uncomfortable questions about what it is that one really seeks in choosing to 'witness' scenes of horrific human abjection.
Perhaps more than any other horror film, Martyrs demonstrates the range of the genre's capabilities to find ways to excite, provoke, and disturb us.
Martyrs is an absolute recommend, but only to those who are willing to accept the film on its own uncompromising terms. All others are advised to stay well clear away.
Martyrs marks new ground in the horror genre - just don't take that as a sign it's worth your time.
The air of pretentiousness and the whiff of lesbian chic suggest that the bunch of nihilists who produced this garbage will claim something for it. All it really demonstrates is that there is something seriously rotten in the state of France.
'Martyrs' is initially shocking and strong, but eventually falls apart once we are informed about what the hell is going on.
Intense, disorienting, unsettling, upsetting, polarising - Martyrs is all these things but it is also intelligent, moving and strangely uplifting. If you want to be put through the wringer by a film, make it this one.
Martyrs is a five star example of what modern horror can do, or a one star mugging of all that is decent. Forgive us if we go with the former.
It will most definitely divide audiences, having already done so all over the world. But Laugier has contributed a brave, brutal and original horror film for all to witness.
Arthouse? Grindhouse? The Passion Of Joan Of Arc: Unrated Edition? Defying all boundaries, Martyrs relentlessly dishes the visceral pain and emerges as a work of not just ceaseless terror but also gravity and beauty.
Martyrs is an unforgettable (not necessarily a good thing) endurance test of a movie that provides a quasi-philosophical spin on the torture porn genre.
You may well feel in need of a shower after sitting through Martyrs, a slick essay in Gallic torture porn.
Audience Reviews for Martyrs
An extremely disturbing, almost unwatchable exercise in extreme sadism that is always gripping for how it follows unpredictable directions at every time - until it reaches a surprising, defying final act that only fails for being so nihilistic and profoundly sickening.More
'Martyrs' begins promisingly, telling the story of Lucie, a woman who escaped violent confinement as a child and has spent her life fighting the demons of her past whilst seeking those responsible for it. The film's exposition is undoubtedly entertaining with Lucie's first adult appearance (with a shotgun) being the highlight of the whole feature.
As Lucie's plot, disappointingly, finishes by the films midpoint focus is then shifted to her long-term friend and partner in crime 'Anna'. From this point onwards 'Martyrs' sadly becomes pseudo-philosophical drivel in an attempt to give itself meaning and mask its little substantial intrigue. Alongside this the film often feels boring in moments and struggles with its shallow antagonists and missing direction. Overall it feels as if 'Martyrs' lost it way when it turned to Anna, and, although I truly enjoyed a few scenes I can't help but feel as if they would of worked better in a something less dishonest.
A young woman tormented by the psychological damage inflicted upon her by sadistic kidnappers seeks revenge with the aid of a childhood friend. Martyrs begins with quite an interesting premise; Mylene Jampanoi's damaged abuse victim is by far the most interesting character in the film and the first half of the story which centres around her state of mind and her friend's uncertainty as to her sanity is very intriguing. But being a "horror" movie, cue the half-baked twist and it degenerates into yet another repulsive torture-thon, the piss weak Outer Limits excuse for which is feeble even by the standards of the genre. Quite why anybody - women in particular - would find entertainment in watching a young girl being mutilated and brutalized I have no idea, but this so-called horror is just yet more tasteless, unpleasant torture porn with pretensions.More
Martyrs is a film that features more unrestrained brutality and repugnant scens of torture than any low-budget horror released in a while, but along with all this comes a certain amount of intelligence. I think it's safe to say that a lot of the negative reactions this film has recieved are based on the suspicion that it's a completely screwed up horror film that could cause damage to people psychologically, and that it's aim is to push you to the limit and make you throw up internal organs or quite simply traumitise you so much it scars you for life. However although it has the power to do that. I found it to be anything but narratively-flimsy and immature, it's actually one of the best horror movies i've seen in a while. It philosophies religion, the afterlife, epiphany-esque visions, and of course the transcendence of pain itself. I think we've gotten so used to idiotic and empty movies like Hostel and Saw that even the art-house, much more intellectual and profound bloodbath's are viewed as the typical Grindhouse fare. Unlike said movies it has two absolutely fantastic lead performances by Morjana Alaoui and Mylène Jampanoï, beautiful cinematography, delicate and artful direction, and a sheer sense of anguish and terror that I think fans of horror cinema will really enjoy, and a reflective meaning. It has one of the most nasty final acts i've seen in a while and also a very creepy ending. If you love film, you'll adore it. If you like horror, you haven't seen anything until you've seen it. I humbly ask people who see this movie not to criticise it on the grounds of being messed up, judge something as infantile as Hostel on that. This film has a purpose, along with that comes physically manifested torture. I would even argue years from now even when this film is disowned by narrow-minded audiences that it's a movie about something but that something certainly isn't torture. I can't really recommend it as entertainment, but I suppose if you happen to come across the film you might see something brilliant if you can handle it.
- What do you have to do to stop being afraid?
- I think you have to let yourself go.
- You think so?
- Let oneself go.
- If I can't do it, will you be there for me?
- How could you do that to me? Why?!
- Can you imagine what happens to us after death? Be doubtful. [shoots herself into the mouth]
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