Lucie, a 10 year old girl, is found wandering in the streets, bruised and bloodied. Unable to say who did this to her, or why, she is placed in a hospital where she meets Anna, another young girl who had been abused. Fifte... more »en years later, with Anna s help, Lucie sets out to get revenge on her attackers. When she believes she has found the couple who abused her, she confronts them ...and that is when the terror truly begins.« less
Chad B. (abrnt1) from CABERY, IL Reviewed on 3/22/2011...
Nobody would have ever expected some of the most hardcore & disturbing horror films around would come from France. That's not exactly a nation with a history for making horror films (only possible exception I can think of off the top of my head is Jen Rollins, but his films r pretty much unwatchable bs for the most part). The current wave of French horror began with Haute Tension (aka High Tension which was an effective slasher/psychological horror mix that held up well until the ending which was total bs (watch the film & you'll understand), Inside & Frontiers. These three films r modern classics of extreme horror. Martyrs is the masterpiece of modern French horror.
This film is disturbing and very thought provoking. It expertly plays with the viewer's expectations and successfully maintains a sense of almost overwhelming dread. Once you've seen ths film it's hard to forget.
2 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Kirk C. (kirk) from ELGIN, IL Reviewed on 11/15/2009...
Martyrs is a movie that has to be experienced to be properly understood. Though many people are quick to jump to the conclusion that it is 'torture porn' (a term I despise), it really isn't. Sure there is graphic torture, but it is required for the viewer to understand the experience that Anna has to undergo. Ultimately it introduces a rather profound concept that the viewer doesn't expect. I won't say anything else since I don't want to ruin it for you but expect it to be graphic and violent. Also, I highly suggest you watch the behind the scenes materials as they add a lot of insight.
2 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Jorge S. (jorgito2001) from WESLEY CHAPEL, FL Reviewed on 10/9/2009...
This movie is pretty disturbing. It can be considered "torture porn" by some, but movies like 'Hostel' have a little bit of "campiness" to them, this movie is DEAD SERIOUS. Once the credits start rolling, it left me with an uncomfortable feeling....the exact opposite of what a "feel good" movie would do! That said, it is FANTASTIC storytelling, well directed and the first half of the movie has some legitimate SCARES! Not for the faint of heart!
5 of 5 member(s) found this review helpful.
Steven H. (sehamilton) from BIRMINGHAM, AL Reviewed on 9/6/2009...
I love horror films. However, I have a strong dislike for those that fall under the category labeled "torture porn." Yes, I've seen Saw and Hostel; didn't like either. And despite my grave misgivings, I decided to watch Martyrs because of all the positive reviews and hype surrounding it. I noticed one of the tags for the film on this site is "sadistic horror", but that only scratches the surface. I should have known better when the director's introduction has him stating he doesn't like himself for having made this film and apologizes to the viewer for what s/he is about to see. I found the film without any redeeming moments. As of this moment, I will no longer watch anything that might conceivably be in the "torture porn" genre. Unlike others who recommend this film, I will not be pondering it over the next few days. Rather, I will be wondering what my ability to sit through this sick film says about me, and whether I need to change. I know my viewing habits will, if nothing else.
3 of 6 member(s) found this review helpful.
James B. (wandersoul73) from LINDALE, TX Reviewed on 5/1/2009...
Wow, I just saw this movie. What a real nightmare maker!
0 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Into The Heart Of Darkness
PDC | USA | 03/23/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I freely admit I had dangerously high expectations going into this film, having read SO many positive reviews (and some rabidly negative ones as well -- as this is one of those love-it-or-loathe-it experiences), but I'm happy to say that, for me, 'Martyrs' lived up to every bit of the hype, and then some.
The problem is that, for most people, they are simply NOT going to be anticipating what this film actually IS, as opposed to what they've been led to BELIEVE it is. Namely, though it contains many ASPECTS typical of the genre, 'Martyrs' is NOT really a "horror film" in the usual sense.
Don't get me wrong, though -- the film certainly IS horrifying at times, on a number of different levels. And it has a kind of nightmare poetry which continues to haunt me.
'Martyrs' also manages to convey an overwhelming sense of cumulative dread and a hellishly pervasive sense of cold, heartless, systematically calculating evil. But it actually has a lot more in common with Gaspar Noe's uncompromising 'Irreversible' and the dark lyricism of Franju's 'Eyes Without A Face' than it does with films like 'Saw' or 'Hostel'.
For, while it does have some extremely disturbing violence and gore, it's somewhat less extreme in that respect than either 'High Tension' or 'Inside' -- two other notable examples of the new wave of French horror cinema.
But 'Martyrs' affected me far more than any of the above-named films (excepting 'Irreversible' and 'Eyes...' ), because of the IDEAS being dealt with and because of Pascal Laugier's remarkably artful handling of his material, aided tremendously by the harrowing, raw-nerved excellence of the acting, as well as the superb cinematography, editing, music, and make-up effects.
Indeed, 'Martyrs' is an "art film" in many ways. In fact, at a couple points it actually elicited tears from me -- not my typical response to most horror films -- as well as a few genuinely appalled exclamations of "Oh my God... Oh my God...", such was the level of my empathy and identification with the main characters and their ordeal.
In fact, it was this aspect of the film which enabled me to get past what would otherwise have been a big stumbling block for me, in terms of conventional movie logic -- i.e. the critical caveat of illogical behavior on the part of the characters when faced with a dangerous or potentially dangerous situation and NOT getting the hell OUT of there! In fact, at a very key point in the narrative, not only do the two main characters refuse to extricate themselves from a very risky and potentially dangerous locale, they positively LINGER there for what seems like DAYS!
Now, normally this would have had me crazy and screaming in frustration at the seeming stupidity or obtuseness of the characters. But, miraculously, in the case of 'Martyrs' I hardly even registered any of this because of the particular relationship dynamic of Lucie and Anna and their unique personal/psychological histories. In other words, given the very particular qualities of these two women, a specific case could be made for what would otherwise have seemed infuriatingly inappropriate behavior.
I find it both apt and reassuring that Laugier has referred to his film as the "anti-'Funny Games'", referencing Michael Haneke's deeply unpleasant, repellently grueling exercise in audience participation/endurance. For while 'Funny Games' was also not a horror film in the exploitative/commercial sense, neither did it have, for me, the inherent spiritual aspects or, dare I say, compassion, which make me willing to return to 'Martyrs', whereas I never feel myself eager to play more 'Funny Games'.
But, more than anything, 'Martyrs' lingers in my mind as a deeply sad, disturbing, and ultimately moving meditation on the theme of pain and transcendence. And though I can see many viewers recoiling from the experience, disgusted by its brutal savagery and depressed and offended by its seeming nihilism (with the emphasis on "seeming"), I find that the film's intriguing ambiguities and moral questions make for a rich cinematic tapestry, reflective of both heaven and hell. And yet, paradoxically, it is perhaps the film's unnerving ability to convey a world of bottomless evil and merciless cruelty that kept me from giving 'Martyrs' a full five stars. Almost as though a part of me would feel guilty in doing this -- as if that would be akin to giving my implicit endorsement or tacit approval of the film's pitch-black heart of darkness.
Perhaps, Mr. Laugier, you did your job a bit TOO well!
Be that as it may, clearly this film has a lot more on its mind than simply grossing out or traumatizing its audiences, though it certainly managed that, as well, during some of its controversial festival screenings. Yet I would still hesitate to recommend it to most people I know. 'Martyrs' is, decidedly and emphatically, NOT a film for everyone.
But, for those looking to be challenged as well as shaken -- for those willing to be taken to deeply uncomfortable places and shown terrible things in new and unexpected ways -- for those yearning to FEEL a visceral response again after years of mindless, numbing "movie-violence"... For all these people 'Martyrs' will be a welcome, if not necessarily pleasant experience, leaving them with something to actually THINK about once the end credits have rolled.
A very sad postscript to a very sad film:
Benoit Lestang, a close friend of the director, and the man who contributed the film's jaw-droppingly powerful special make-up effects, committed suicide shortly after the film's completion. He did get to see the film prior to his death and apparently was proud of his work and moved to tears by the film. As to the specific reasons for his tragic decision, little has been spoken or written about that. And, given the film's specific subject matter, one could all too easily be drawn into the temptation of making inappropriate connections and drawing conclusions, which I shall assiduously avoid.
Laugier himself has been very candid about his own personal feelings, both in regard to the emotional devastation of losing his friend, as well as the fact that the creative genesis of 'Martyrs' sprang from a long period of Laugier's own depression. And he has indicated that, in some ways, the film was perhaps his response to that depression -- partially expiating it through channeling his own darkness and pain into that of the film's theme and characters.
Suffice it to say, 'Martyrs' will provide a lasting and worthy final monument to Mr. Lestang's extraordinary gifts as a supremely talented artist and craftsman. And it is precisely that artistry, in conjunction with that of Laugier and the rest of his remarkable team, that resulted in startling images of strange and terrible beauty. Images which, like the film itself, continue to linger in the mind long after the final curtain.
Peace be with you, Benoit. "
A PHILOSOPHICAL SHOCKER - A VERY RARE FILM.
Paulo Leite | Lisbon, Portugal | 03/28/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is truly a remarkable horror experience. A very rare catch that could only be made in Europe.
Young Lucie escapes from captivity and grows up tormented by her experiences. She is continuously haunted by a creature that preys on her. At the institution where she lives, she befriends another girl, Anna. Fast forward 15 years and Lucie discovers the people who tortured her as a child. She gets her revenge with the help of Anna... who's in for the discovery/experience of a lifetime.
It all seems pretty vague, I know, but I do not want to spoil the ending - which is by far one of the most fascinating endings I've ever seen - because it is, perhaps, the most ironic ending ever for a horror film!
The philosophical nature of the plot - that becomes clear halfway through is beautifully written and calculated and the Mademoiselle character is truly frightening! Contrary to what people may say, the violence and gore presented here - although over the top - is NOT gratuitous. They serve the narrative. The violence and gore are essential to what the characters in the plot are trying to achieve. And it is up to the viewer to endure it.
The ending will simply leave everyone with their mouth open... and make clear the ultimate irony.
This is a film that, somehow, could never have come up in Hollywood. The Europeans have done it again!
Nobody today makes horror films like the Europeans. This film is unique!"
Michael Enoksen | Marysville, California | 11/19/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"So I just got watching Martyrs and I came to Amazon to give my seller negative feedback. When I ordered this movie I was under the impression that I was getting an American film with a foreign cover. Well I got the foreign film that it is. Obviously I did not pay attention to the site when it told me it was in French. Now that I got my stupidity out there, you might not want to read any more of this review, as I am apparently not all that bright.
I won't relive the story as many other reviewers like to do. I read the product description (minus Language: French). I am sure you have done the same and don't need me to repeat it here...like so many other people like to do.
And now we are to the whole review part. Umm, yeah, different. Wasn't expecting that. Waste of my time? No way. Good flick. Well printed. Well acted. Not a slasher movie by any means. Yes there was some killing, but not the typical, "I'll be right back..." kind of stuff. Blood was abundant, but appropriate when used. I found myself getting caught up in the images so much that I would have to rewind the movie just so I could read the dialog. I saw someone write that the ending was less than acceptable, and I would have to agree. It was almost a comical ending. I think the writers got tired and were probably pressured by a deadline for them to cut it short the way they did. The movie did drag on at times. I had to check the timer to see how much movie was left..."What? It is only at 45 minutes? Seems like it has been at least an hour!"...Not saying it was boring. It kept my attention. I was just so wrapped up in it that I lost track of time. Kinda saw one part of it coming near the middle, but, for the most part, I just let the movie take me where it wanted to and sat back to enjoy the movie(as much as a normal person can "enjoy" a torture film). No it wasn't easy to watch but that is what makes this movie such a good buy. People don't buy torture movies because they want to laugh or cry or even be scared. They want to be disturbed. They want their bubble to be popped. They don't want to be comfortable. They want their views of the world (as well as life in general) to be challenged. Or they make a mistake and buy the wrong movie. After a few minutes the mistakers (I just made that up...you like it?) should turn off the movie as quickly as possible and press on with their lives as if nothing ever happened. There is no need to review a well made movie simply because you are not comfortable with the subject. Wait that sounds like I am into torture. I am not. Hmm...where was I going with that? So anyway, I am now bashing people that bashed this movie so this review has taken a turn for the worse.
My movie is over and I am left with the feeling of what now. What am I supposed to feel based on what I have seen over the last 90 minutes? Am I outraged? Am I saddened? Am I supposed to feel intensly sorry for the women tortured? Am I supposed to want to save the world or am I just supposed to know that this kind of weirdness is present in the world? I am left with this cloud in my head...not sure what is in there. I will just have to feel around for a while to get my bearings.
BTW, I saw on this page Amazon says there is an intro. I didn't get that on my version of the DVD. Hope you enjoy it.
Bottom line: Would I buy the movie again? I have bought duplicate movies (let me refer you to paragraph 1), but if I had lost my copy of this movie or had rented it, the answer is yes I would buy this movie."
This is some serious, disturbing horror folks...
SuperNose | USSA | 03/29/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Let me start by saying I have seen almost every horror film you can name, and probably some you can't. This film will stick in your mind long after you've finished watching it. Unlike Hostel or Saw, this film is a hundred times more cerebral, unpredictable, and willing to push the envelope in a way most American films will not. There are no punches pulled. There are no heroes. There are only human monsters. Horror lovers, I strongly recommend you do not read anything about this picture before watching it, which will ruin its power to scare. You will be entertained. You will think about it after it's over. I promise."
Not so much a horror movie...
Almost Home | undisclosed | 09/23/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"...But rather this is a horrific film. The storyline is well-known so no need to go into that here. Let me say that this is a brutal movie. It is bloody. It is gory. It is at times difficult to watch. There are horror elements mixed in, mostly in the early minutes of the film. Many lump this film into the Hostel/Saw genre of movies. That does this film such a diservice. Eli Roth is a cancer on the movie world. Saw was a great film, but the cash-in sequels have tarnished its legacy. No, this is not "torture-porn" as people like to say these days. This is a film about the power of suffering. There are no obligatory rape scenes that are all the rage right now. No, this is a film meant to deal with the human condition and how death is percieved by the living. This film works in so many ways. Once you see it you will not forget it. The only problem I had with this movie was the pacing was all over the place. The ending of the story seemed rushed. Don't get me wrong, I didn't wish to see anymore scenes of perverse acts perpetrated on a helpless individual. It just seemed like if you were going to go this far in a movie, go all in. Take your time. Other than that, this is a brutal yet beautiful film. Be warned. Four stars."