Monday, November 14, 2016

Film Review: Martyrs (2015)

Martyrs (Review)
United States/2015
Format Viewed For Review: FandangoNOW
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"It's just not frightening, compelling, or even brutal..."

Lucie (Troian Bellisario) enlists her childhood friend, Anna (Bailey Noble), to help her find the people who abused her as a child...

Martyrs is a remake of the 2008 French film of the same title. The plot follows Lucie and Anna. At ten years old, Lucie escapes from an isolated torture chamber and ends up in an orphanage where she meets Anna. Ten years later, Lucie shows up at the door of the people she suspects are responsible for her childhood torture, then she kills them. And, she drags Anna into her mess, too. However, it turns out that this friendly family held some very dark secrets. There are a few changes in the plot compared to the original, but it really doesn't stray far. At times, it is nearly identical to the original. The ending attempts something different, but it just comes off as sloppy – like the rest of the film.

Martyrs isn't a good movie and I don't say that as a big fan of the original. I say that as a fan of dark fiction and horror. The plot does not resonate due to the corners it cuts. It doesn't hit hard because it pussyfoots around its themes and violence. It refuses to go into the bleak and horrifying world of the original throughout most of its runtime. The 'horror' doesn't fare much better. This movie is not atmospheric, suspenseful, creepy, or even jolting. I mean, even its jump-scares fall flat. It retains some of the violence from the original, but, again, it pussyfoots around the brutality, which should be a major part of the film in a thematic sense. So, whether you're talking plot or horror, the film does not leave an impression either way – and that's utterly disappointing.

Troian Bellisario is... competent. There are worst actresses out there, but Bellisario simply doesn't fit this role. She doesn't have the emotion or conviction to convey the depth and pain of her character. Bailey Noble performs a little better, fortunately. The supporting cast is also lacking in conviction, but I digress. The film looks okay and the music was decent. It's all fairly standard stuff. The film was written by Mark L. Smith and directed by Kevin and Michael Goetz. While attempting to change the plot, Smith's writing comes off as cowardly instead of original. He skimps over the original's most significant themes, which caused him to skip over some of its most stunning scenes. His substitutes can't fill those shoes, either. The Goetz Brothers are also competent, but horror may not be there forte. They failed to conjure any significant suspense or atmosphere, delivering a hollow shell of a movie.

Overall, Martyrs is a bad film. Its status as a remake does not matter in this case. It's just not frightening, compelling, or even brutal – the latter should have been easy to deliver, especially as an independent release. Due to the constant pussyfooting of the filmmakers, I have to wonder: why did you even bother remaking this film? You might as well have Disney remaking A Serbian Film.

Score: 3/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood.

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