Critics Consensus

A real polarising movie, this Gallic torture-porn is graphic, brutal, nasty and gruesome and not to everyone's taste.



Total Count: 34


Audience Score

User Ratings: 12,293
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Movie Info

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.


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Critic Reviews for Martyrs

All Critics (34) | Top Critics (8) | Fresh (20) | Rotten (14)

  • Martyrs is something of a horror milestone-a dire one to some, but a movie to be reckoned with all the same.

    Oct 19, 2018 | Full Review…

    Scott Tobias

    AV Club
    Top Critic
  • 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.

    Dec 1, 2010
  • 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.

    Mar 31, 2009 | Rating: 1/5 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Mar 27, 2009 | Rating: 3/5
  • 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.

    Mar 27, 2009 | Rating: 2/6 | Full Review…

    David Jenkins

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • 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.

    Mar 27, 2009 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…

    Wendy Ide

    Times (UK)
    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Martyrs

  • Sep 07, 2018
    It takes a lot for a movie to shock me these days. You can show me gallons of gore for sheer shock value and it does very little. Not to be nihilistic, but growing up in less restricted internet, I've stumbled across real world things far more horrifying than some needy director's theatrics. There is still a part of me that is looking for something to shock me, and simply grossing me out Human Centipede style simply doesn't do it. Martyrs came pretty close. Really what Martyrs does different from other torture porn films is presenting a story and purpose to its torture. The world from the get-go feels gritty and genuine, and the characters feel like real people, and our leads make some choices that are pretty despicable but come from a genuine place. When the more grotesque moments happen, they feel earned, and are handled in a manner evoking emotion that makes them far more effective than simply advertising how good your effects team is. And yes, there is a moment in the second half the film that did shock me and even make me gag. What elevates the film above its genre though is that it gives its graphic violence purpose. Without getting into spoilers, there are really two types of violence in this movie. One based on revenge, and one based on something else entirely. In both cases, the violence depicted is not glorified nor is it shamed, it is simply shown. In both cases, it made me ask questions, and left me thinking about the movie days after I watched it. Are these questions worth asking? Well, that's really up for debate. But I can't deny that the movie left an impact on me.
    Michael M Super Reviewer
  • Apr 06, 2015
    Unafraid of its own premise, Martyrs understands that if you want to make a polarising film you do it with full acknowledgement of your own disease. Blends elements of child abuse, conspiracy, religion and kidnapping, Martyrs is incredibly dark and provides full-frontal exposure to a fictional world that doesn't release you from its clutches until its over. Unfortunately, it's not good enough to really want to watch again, however it is far from artless and there is entertainment in the performances, vague whiff of lesbian melodrama and unflinching ending. Definitely worth a watch and honestly, it really isn't as terrible as everyone makes out.
    Harry W Super Reviewer
  • Aug 27, 2013
    Usually I wait at least a day or two before writing a review to let the movie sink in and I can evaluate my opinion. With <i>Martyrs</i> I want to flush it from my system as quickly as possible and hopefully never think about it again. It is brutal, ugly, and above all incredibly dispiriting. I have seen my share of graphic, disturbing films, some of which I have recommended because they also feature qualities that make the experience worthwhile, but this sadistic hellride offers practically none. I cannot think of another film I that wish I could unsee ahead of <i>Martyrs.</i> (Well, maybe <i>The Matrix Revolutions.</i>) Here's the setup: one preteen girl Lucie escaped from a strange dungeon where she endured unexplained tortures. She wound up in an orphanage and bonded with the one girl Anna who felt sorry for her. 15 years later, Lucie thinks she has found the people who imprisoned her and sets a course of revenge with Anna close behind. That's the first half, which is extremely violent but contains an element of mystery: who <i>are</i> these kidnappers and what is their agenda? The biggest objection I have is that the second half revels in pain and suffering while barely moving the story forward, and fails miserably at providing any kind of resolution. We do partially find out the implausible motives, but ultimately are left hanging along with a sick feeling of emptiness. I suspect that they didn't really care about how they finished the movie as long as it gave them the excuse for the preceding hour and a half of extreme cruelty. That makes their choice of an existential theme in an attempt to make the ordeal seem important even more shameless. Why one star then? It is well made, minus the overused shaky cam and twitchy editing, and had enough story to hold interest during the first half. But a well-made movie is not automatically a good movie, even if they got the response they were looking for. A well-placed finger down the throat will also get a predictable reaction, yet the results far from meritorious. Spare yourself the misery.
    Doctor S Super Reviewer
  • Jul 30, 2013
    This extremely disturbing and almost unwatchable exercise in extreme sadism is always gripping, given how it follows unpredictable directions at every moment until it reaches a surprising final act that demands too much from the audience for being so nihilistic and profoundly sickening.
    Carlos M Super Reviewer

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