To start off with, this is not a movie like Hostel or Saw. If you are looking for something like either of these movies, turn back now.
I may aswell get this out of the way first. Martyrs is not the goriest movie ever made, not even close. However, it may be one of the most brutal movies ever made. You will not see excessive blood splats, or heads being lopped off. You will, however, see some extreme brutality.
There is, thankfully, no awful depravity. No graphic rape, or sexual assualts or anything you may see in some god awful Rob Zombie film. There is some to an extent, but nothing off putting.
People have gone into detail about the plot on other reviews, so for this one, I shall stick to the actual movie.
This is not torture porn. This is true, powerful movie making. Unfortunatly because it happens to be French, and a violent horror movie, this is what this movie is being lumped into. This is terribly unfair, in fact for many horror films being released recently, but especcialy this one. It is perhaps one of the most thought provoking films I have seen in a VERY long time.
This is a very nihilistic, dark movie. For those rooting for a quick escape for either heriones will be sorely dissapointed. Martyrs pulls the rug out from under your feet every time you start to feel comfortable. You will be sitting and think 'Ah this is pegged for me now' and woosh, the film spirals and twists into something completely different.
The film has been critized for it's midway point twist. I found this to be very effective. It is a clear example of just how much the movie switches around on the viewer. Also, the point of the twist is not to carry on the story in a pitch perfect manner, but to further director Pascal Laugers message.
Ah yes, the message. Many seem to be missing it. But there is a message inside this movie. I will not spoil anything, but it all hinders on the final scene and line of the movie. The message is very powerful, and made all the stronger but the sheer, constant brutality the second half of the film delivers.
Overall, this is a very powerful and very dark piece of French cinema. I hope this will be the final note on which the French horror genre goes out on, as this is the best of them. Darker than Frontiers, more thought provoking than Inside, and more enthralling than Switchblade Romance. An excellent movie.