Martyrs (2008) Review

Spoiler-free so you can read before you watch

Martyrs (2008) Review

Horrorific content by Bleaz79 on November 29th, 2021 | Movie Review | Religion, Cult, Confined, Revenge, Gore, Extreme, Body Horror, Torture

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It’s about a young woman and her friend who seek revenge on those who tortured them as children, only to find themselves in the midst of something altogether more horrifying than they could have ever imagined.

Martyrs was directed by Pascal Laugier (also known for The Tall Man) and stars Mylene Jampanoi, Morjana Alaoui, Mike Chute and Patricia Tulasne among others.

They bear all the sins of the earth

Martyrs Review

This is a film that has echoes of the torture porn of Hostel but moves into something altogether more akin to Salo: 120 Days Of Sodom yet significantly more profound.

There is quite simply no easy way to describe what you will watch and feel during this film other than it being a true test of endurance and a stone cold horror masterpiece.

It’s starts by suggesting psychological horror but then descends into levels of brutality that cannot truly be described without putting one off or spoiling the film. Shock and awe is the name of the game with this, which also falls easily into the allegorical nature of it.

Taking elements from previous extreme French New Wave Horror and running with it, Martyrs also invokes religious fanaticism, obsession, revenge thirst and cult brainwashing.

The thing with this film is that it doesn’t do any of this in an exploitative manner. Whilst most movies of this type would go all out to upset, nauseate and offend (and don’t get me wrong, it can do that in spades) this film is one that actually has something to say amid the grue. Allegory is high on the list here, the atrocities at Abu Ghraib clearly play a part in one extended sequence, as well as theology, ideology and dogma.

But it’s not just violence, subjugation and trauma that hits the viewer, it’s also the psychological impact of violence, creed and isolation that play into the psyche and actions of the three main characters, an unexpected twist in the first twenty minutes stuns you and makes you question what is to come.

This is not for the faint of heart. Martyrs contains scenes of body horror, torture, violence and bloodshed that will make even the most hardened horror fan wince. The sound design and mixing is outstanding, adding to the viscera onscreen and making every act seemingly more painful. All of this leads to a devastating experience for the viewer. Some have genuinely walked out, passed out or vomited during screenings.

I could genuinely wax lyrical about Martyrs for days, there is so much to unpack within it that, if you can stomach it, you may just do too. By the time the film is over, you will be questioning so many things; not just what you have just watched, but also the very nature of humanity and its primal ability to be completely and utterly inhuman.

Worth Watching?

Yes, 100% yes. It is, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the most harrowing films you will ever see, but it is also a work of artistic genius that will really make you think… once you’ve had a VERY large, stiff drink to get over it, as I did.

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