A Short Review of 'Martyrs' (2008 by Pascal Laugier)
Disturbing, Yet Unique
I can see why many would consider this highly controversial—why it would go down in cinema history as one of the most deranged films ever put to screen.
For it certainly is controversial, as well as being disturbing but also intensely creepy and a strangely unique, psychological work of cinema. Though this is indeed an 'ultra violent' film, it is nothing like the mainstream, sensationalist torture porn's like Hostel (2005, Eli Roth), The Human Centipede (2009, Tom Six) or its American remake, Martyrs (2015, Kevin Goetz).
The film is much more than that, it's more than just a straight up gore film designed to entice the wannabe horror fans, who in fact have no clue what the genre is even about. (Yes I'm a snob when it comes to the horror genre, get used to it.) It has genuine meaning to the violence that is seen in the film, it is a truly focused horror film committed to its story and holds an artistic element that truly intensifies the horrifying experience of both the story and the characters. I was genuinely left shaking after watching the film—shaking and in a state of constant analytical thought.
I strangely find myself wanting to watch it again, and again. To analyse it and truly decipher it, to figure out what it means. This film has done one of the most crucial elements for a good horror film, it made me think. I didn't just come out of this thinking, "OH MY GOD WHAT IS THIS SHIT?!" like I'd normally do with the majority of poorly done mainstream gore movies. I had genuine in depth thoughts, I felt genuine emotions and was truly disturbed by this highly intense film. It was in fact made all the more disturbing by the performances of main actresses Mylene Jampanoi and Morjana Alaoui. Who both played such a convincing performance that one cannot help be captured in this disturbing situation with them, completely sympathetic to their emotions and feel truly sorrowful for their situation.
The film itself is not really disturbing for its imagery or the extreme violence but because of the emotions that are expressed through it. I found myself in a near emotional turmoil while trying to process this film. Trying to figure out what I had just witnessed. One thing I will say, I do not think the film is as controversial as people have made out. If the film would have purely used it's violence for foolish sensationalism then I would understand where people are coming from but saying that, it is definitely not for the faint of heart. If you do decide to see this film, I recommend that you have strong perseverance, as well as a strong stomach. Essentially, a seasoned horror veteran like myself.
Do I like it? I would say yes but I'm not sure. I think I'll have to give myself more time to process it. More than anything I just want to keep analysing this film. It constantly kept my mind intrigued, both during viewing it and after. Perhaps it's just the horror of what I just witnessed lingering in my sub conscious but my whole brain feels stimulated when ever I think about it. It is definitely more artistic than what you'd expect of its genre and creates a really gripping plot, that makes you think. Although, again only watch this if you are a seasoned horror veteran. It is an immensely intense watch that not everyone will enjoy or be able to withstand.
For an artistic, intense, psychological, gore infested, creepy and disturbing horror, it is definitely worth watching.