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on 15 May 2014
First of all, Martyrs is the type of film that's guaranteed to shock it's viewer so it's not really recommended for those who have a weak stomach or is faint of heart. Pascal Laugier has created a deeply disturbing and powerful assault on the senses, his direction was quite good with some beautiful cinematography and lighting, and the performances from both Morjana Alaoui and Mylène Jampanoï were both outstanding. The film begins by showing a young girl, bloodied and gaunt, running from some unspecified evil she's just escaped from. Shortly afterward, we flash forward to the girl as a young lady--Lucie (Mylène Jampanoï, in an astonishing, heartbreaking performance), still too traumatized fifteen years later to sleep alone.

So she sleeps in the same room with her lifelong friend Anna (Morjana Alaoui, also delivered a terrific, haunting performance), who loves Lucie and is doing her best to empathize with her. But Lucie has a demon. A real one. One that chases her around and cuts her with knives and is generally evil and mean to her. Anna never sees the demon, but she goes along with Lucie when Lucie devises a plan to do what it takes to put it to rest. She must return to the heart of darkness and kill her childhood tormentors.

Lucie then goes out and massacres an entire family with a shot gun. At first, you believe she's bonkers, but we soon realize that the parents killed weren't whom they appear..far, far worse. But, Lucie hallucinates, believing that a mistreated victim she didn't rescue as a child after escaping from the place where she was tortured is always coming for her. Anna who witnesses the aftermath of the slaughter, attempts to clean up the mess, while mortified at such a grisly crime scene.. It's here that the movie gets really interesting due to the way it begins to defy expectations. Martyrs is yet another vicious, dementedly violent masterpiece that the French can call their own, and possibly the most brutal one yet!

The highly original premise cannot be compared with any other modern horror flick, even though some scenes were reminiscent of Hostel, both films were entirely different. It's not your typical torture porn as it is much more than that. Martyrs is truly a brilliant film, with good actors and a good story. The thesis is that if a person can survive extremes of pain and deprivation, new vistas may be opened to them.

It's been long-held that the right side of the brain, the imaginative, creative side receives its flashes of insight or inspiration under extremes of stress a different kind of martyrdom. It may be that there's some truth in the theory. Whatever the case, it's a topic worth exploring, and "Martyrs" does a pretty good job of it. While the brutality was sometimes hard to watch, the underlying theme rendered it all fascinating, unlike so many pointless torture pics it actually makes you think. Martyrs was truly a fantastic film that's guaranteed to shock and disturb horror fans out there as it will make you think about it for days later, it's definitely one of my favorite French horror film.
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on 24 January 2010
I thought that I was a fairly seasoned gore hound, I was under the impression that I couldn't be shocked, I was wrong!

From the opening sequence of a bloody and battered young girl squealing and screaming, limping as fast as her brutalised body could manage, to get away from as yet undisclosed terrors, to the closing sequence which I had to have explained for me by my sister's fiance, as my hand was firmly up in front of my face, because frankly I couldn't watch any more, Martyrs is a thoroughly engaging and compelling examination of human suffering.

What it isn't however is enjoyable. This film was far too brutal, gritty and nasty for me. A Saturday night ought never to involve watching a young girl tied to a chair in a dirty warehouse being slapped around her already bloody and bruised face.

By an hour or so in, though I felt violated by this film, I still felt that I could deal with it, then the movie shifts gears and from the last half hour goes down a hithero (to me anyway) unexpected path and that was when I started to really struggle. The last third of Martyrs is one of the most terrible, horrible, awful, vile things that I've ever put myself through, yet it is substantially less gory than the hour which preceeds it, there is no way of me explaining how this is possible with spoiling things for you, so you shall have to take my word for it.

Though this wasn't for me I have given it four stars because in many ways it is a brilliant film. It is incredibly original and sumptuously filmed and edited with a rawness that lends an extra veneer of grit to a movie which is already rotten with cutting edge ideas and envelope pushing concepts.

I would thoroughly recommend this to people who enjoy utter darkness, rawness and brutality in their movies. I shall return to collecting Troma films, safe on the knowledge that there are limits to what I consider to be entertainment
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on 5 April 2016
I'm not really a horror fan, mainly because there is so many poor mainstream offerings about that it's a struggle to find something that makes you think. This made me think. And it's an uncomfortable train of thought to be on. There's so many levels in this film that it is genuinely hard not to think about it, both during and after seeing it. And that really draws you into what's happening. In my opinion, this films is so complex and well crafted that it did for me what Ex-Machina should have done; it made me uncomfortable. I kept making comparisons to that film because of the look, feel, tone, pacing...but Garland's film can't hold a torch to this on any level.

This is one of the finest crafted films I've seen in a very long time. There was a point in Anna's 'training' that I couldn't help but question what the hell the point to showing such gratuitous and prolonged treatment was...but this film unfolds at the right pace, you just don't realise it at certain points that patience is the key. You begin to question what you're watching; to the point of asking how they could possibly end this in a meaningful way. Yet the answer to that question is so satisfying, so justified that you leave with a sense of disgust, and some twisted admiration equally for Mademoiselle, the 'feeder', the 'beater', and the 'subjects'.
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on 29 May 2009
I watched this film last night around a friend's house. I knew nothing about it and was really not that interested in watching a film, however, by the end I was glad that I had not protested.

This film is a rollercoaster of emotions and revelations. Beginning with a young girl who has been abused running out of a industrial building screaming is some opening. Move on 15 years later and she and her friend who you meet in the opening credits begin their journey creating a magnificent piece of French cinema.

I will not give any spoilers away but this film puts films like Hostel and Saw to shame. The problem is that this film is not for everyone, it does take some thought to figure out what is going on and believe me your feelings for characters will change throughout.

By the end you feel like you have been Martyred as it is tough to endure if you let yourself slip into the story, which I might add is very believeable. Watch out for the photographs in the film, they are real and what is described are true events.

All in all 5/5, I've just purchased it myself for my collection, and it is a worthy addition.
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on 1 February 2014
I discovered this film a while ago. It it one of my favourite horror films and one I can watch again and again. It has such an original story and it captures you right from the start. The characters are great in this film and you feel a connection to them. The acting is superb. I would most definitely recommend this film and I have already done so to many friends. There is so many emotions as you watch the film for the 1st time, it's exciting and captivating. If you like your horror and are looking for something different then this is the film for you.
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on 3 July 2009
Once again, I am compelled to write a review of a horror film. Until recently I thought the horror genre was dying, if not dead, despite clutching at occasional offerings such as `Mum and Dad' and `Eden Lake' both of which offered hope and a possible new direction in the horror genre. Whilst not necessarily a fan of torture porn, I think it is here to stay and at first, I thought `Martyrs' promised little more than misogynistic uberviolence.
But it's not. The plot leads you by a clammy hand through twists and turns, and whereas the mental illness angle was relatively easy to second guess, the second half of this genre jumping film was completely unpredictable. This is vicious, viscous, cerebral horror, horror to make you think, horror which really does leave mental scars. You might not want to, but you must make yourself watch this film to the end. Even now, I'm still struggling to come to terms with the basic philosophical thoughts which underpin this work and the absolute realism and attention to detail which informs the viewer throughout. Sitting through the second half, I wondered if this film was a step too far, considered that there ought to be tighter censorship laws governing these violent and sickening representations: the fact that the denouement made me, transiently, consider that the process I had witnessed justified the end result, worries me. This is a film about the unspeakable and the ultimate justification of the unspeakable and your own, eventual, compliance with the unspeakable.
I have deliberately not given any of the plot away, because on one level a good plot serves primarily to communicate ideas and move us towards them, and this film is a film of ideas, ideas so old they could be said to underpin the fabric of our society. If you are a horror aficionado, if you want to have your boundaries stretched, if you feel you have become complacent in your attitude towards a genre you thought was failing, then this is the film for you. This is a film that returns horror to its rightful place, on the top shelf, restricted. This is no fifteen certificate, this is horror grown up. Horror was never meant for social gatherings, shared bon hommie, popcorn in packed cinemas. DVD is the perfect format: we shouldn't want to share the darker sides of ourselves in public, lest we reveal ourselves to be actually enjoying something forbidden. This is certainly not a film for everyone, and I praise Pascal Laugier for that: uncompromisingly adults only - and so much the better for it, this isn't a film where any concessions have been made to taste or decency. This is European horror, deeper than society or sorority. This is streets ahead of the commercialised big budget American market where profit margins dilute content and result in `MTV Horror'. Horror isn't werewolves or vampires; horror is humanity, it's history, it's us. This is New Horror which takes us to the places we recognise in our neighbour, Josef Fritzl. An outstanding, marvellously sickening and deep contribution to my collection which leaves recent cause célèbres floundering in the shallows.
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on 4 July 2013
I loved this movie from start to finish. this movie is just packed full of tense moments and i found myself holding my breath for a lot of them. it gave me a good fright for the first jump scare too. i love jump scares that work properly instead of being cheap. i jumped because there was good reason not some cheap trick like...oh it was the cat ect.

The entire cast are amazing but the two leading girls are so superiour, they are both just so amazing in this movie.
this movie is very sad at times, i actually shed a tear for the "i miss you" part it was just heartbreaking.

i didnt think the gore was over the top, like i didnt feel sick or anything. some people might find it too much but if you are into the usual horror flicks you should not have a problem with the level of guts and head bashing ect. none of it is mindless there are good reasons for each injury lol i think.

looking back at this movie i know i want it in my collection for the simple fact that it is one of the most original ideas i have ever come across in a horror. it is very clever and i tip my hat to the girls who had to endure some of the most crazy scenes and sets iv seen in a while. I would buy it to watch the girls alone they are really amazing. lucy's charachter threw herself around quite a bit and im telling you now it really looks like it hurt. even if its just acting she must have been in a scary place in her head to pull off that realistic scale. Anne i fell in love with, my god that girl is caring.both girls are stunning too. the directing was so brilliant i am very impressed.

The soundtrack is brilliant i might have to check that out sometime. This movie is so tragic and emotional too, the music plays a big role in that area. lastly there are tons of little twists and turns. i didnt know what was going on, i was just kind of sitting there with my hands hovering over the side of my head waiting for the next round if madness. towards the end i was almost shouting at the screan for her to hold on. its amazing how much spirit and fight some women can truely have inside. its very insprational.

Seriously just buy this is memorable, tragic and worth every penny.
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on 7 December 2010
This is an uncompromising film that, at times, is very uncomfortable to watch. The typical horror splatter gore of the main bulk of the film contrasts sharply with the brutal (but gore restrained) violence of the final act.

Am I glad I watched this film? Yes.

Will I be watching it again? No, not for a very long time anyway.
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on 1 November 2014
Extremely disturbing but refreshing and well shot French horror/drama. Martyrs is clearly not for everyone. Dealing with issues ranging from child abuse to mental health, this is a shocker from the Canadian-French. So shocking in its abuse to women that director Pascal Lautier was apologetic, however this is art and sometimes are is painful to view.

Martyrs isn't just about shock factor though- and just to be sure you would be making a grave mistake bundling this one into the so called torture porn pile, it isn't. The film is gripping with never a dull moment, even though for the majoirty of its running time the film is confined to one house.

However you should be warned of the EXTREME violence on show here. It is upsetting and it will get to you. The final half an hour is an assault on the senses. But Martyrs should be praised, it is difficult to view but is well executed and on the face of it one of the finest if not disturbing foreign films in quite some time.
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on 1 November 2012
Like the previous reviewer, I consider myself to be fairly hardcore gorehound and am usually immune to queasy feelings when watching horror (this isn't technically a horror, but I certainly can't think of a better word) movies, but 'Martyrs' is an exception. It gave me the same uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach that I got the first time I saw 'Scum', many years ago.
It takes itself very seriously. There's none of the 'it's only a movie' hack n' slash torture porn vibe of 'Hostel' or 'Saw'. This one's for grown ups. The psychological aspects of the torture scenes are every bit as disturbing as the physical brutality portrayed on screen. Also there is a twisted point to all the violence.
If you have a stout heart and a strong stomach and enjoy meaningful, challenging art house movies then give 'Martyrs' a go, but be warned, this is extreme cinema at it's most extreme.
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