Saturday, October 25, 2014

Film Review: Martyrs (2008)

Martyrs (Review)
Format Viewed For Review: Blu-ray (eOne Films)
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No
A 31 Days of Halloween Special Review!*

" of them most unsettling and disturbing films I've ever watched."

Imprisoned and physically tormented as a child, Lucie (Mylene Jampanoi) seeks vengeance from the people responsible.

Martyrs follows the troubled Lucie and her lifelong friend Anna (Morjana Alaoui) after Lucie executes a seemingly normal family. Lucie is convinced this family is responsible for the heinous torture she endured as a child, and Anna reluctantly agrees to help her closest friend. Unfortunately, the revenge doesn't offer Lucie's inner-demons any satisfaction. Eventually, Anna learns more about Lucie's past and is forced to follow the same path. The ending is shocking – it feels somewhat like a cop-out, but it was very interesting.

Martyrs isn't a traditional horror film. It's not even a traditional torture film. Martyrs is more of a horror-drama hybrid, like The Exorcist. Consequently, the horror is much more effective. In fact, this is one of them most unsettling and disturbing films I've ever watched. It's one of the few films that I actually have difficulties watching due to the disturbing themes and graphic violence – both of which are amplified by the drama elements and acting. It's not something that simply aims to gross you out. Instead, this film gave me the chills; it induced that huge lump in my throat.

The story is more complicated and detailed than my synopsis, but it's a film that's better when you know less. The plot is ultimately very effective. It's confined to one area, but it's multilayered. The pacing is great, too, the film flows very naturally and stays on its feet. Other than the graphic violence, the film uses disturbing visuals and jolting jump-scares to frighten. Like I said, it's all very effective. There aren't many jump-scares, if that's what you're looking for, but most of them work very well.

The acting is all-around strong from the entire cast. Mylene Jampanoi is very good. Morjana Alaoui is fantastic as the lead – great expressions. The film is shot very well, despite its graphic violence and unsettling themes. The music is also very effective in inducing several emotions – it can be horrifying one scene, then somber during another. The special effects and makeup are fantastic; these really helped created the disturbing visuals. Writer and director Pascal Laugier, who also directed House of Voices, delivers a vicious horror film and a resonating drama. It's a fantastic blend that creates an incredibly effective and unforgettable horror-drama experience.

Overall, Martyrs is a vicious film. It's definitely not a film for everyone. In fact, despite my high praise and high score, I can't recommend this film to just anyone. It's too graphic in presentation and too polarizing in theme. But, if you're an open-minded film-goer and can tolerate extreme violence, this film might be worth a viewing. It won't be entertaining per se, but it will certainly be effective. So effective, you may never forget it.

Score: 9/10
Parental Guide: Graphic violence and blood, including torture, and some nudity.

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