Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Review: Martyrs

Martyrs (2008)
Genre: Horror
Format: DVD
Director: Pascal Laugier

I just finished watching Martyrs and I am still a bit dazed from the experience. Is it better than À l'intérieur? Well, it's different... I can't say whether it's superior or inferior. Is it truly hardcore in terms of its blood and gore? Actually, it isn't. But is it any good? Oh yes it is.

One thing is certain: Martyrs is definitely one of those movies that you have to view before knowing the details of the storyline. The basic premise is this: a young girl was able to escape from being locked up and tortured in an abandoned building. 15 years later, she was able to locate the people responsible for her misery. Saying anything more than that will destroy this movie for you and no, you are not permitted to look elsewhere to find out more - if you are remotely interested in the film, just do yourself a favor and watch it. I can say that the movie takes me on a roller coaster of emotions - fear, disgust, desperation, and ultimately sadness - and it's clear that Laugier wants Martyr to honor a lot of different sub-genres within the horror conventions with its mesmerizing and twisted plot development.

In regards to my comment about the blood and gore - the movie is certainly bloody but it isn't as bad nor is it as excessive as the things I've seen in the likes of Hostel 2 or the Saw franchise. I wouldn't call the movie ultra-violent but I will call it ultra-brutal: there is a difference between the two. The torture scenes have a "subtle" momentum to them and the savagery is felt through that build up instead of the in-your-face approach mostly found in your typical "torture-porn" genre (in which this movie isn't by the way).

If you are looking for a fresh take on what the horror genre can accomplish, Martyrs is it. There is something selfishly human about the whole horrific proceedings when everything is said and done, which is something that I don't really expect to come out of a horror film. Laugier has made a very disturbing movie that can be enjoyed in so many different levels, even if he himself is confused about his success: he actually apologizes in the introduction video on the DVD. I just hope that his misdirected humility will not stop him from taking further risks in the future.

RATING: 4 out of 5

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