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Review: ‘Martyrs’ Does a Wonderful Job Portraying Suffering in Every Sense of the Word

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Review: 'Martyrs' Does a Wonderful Job Portraying Suffering in Every Sense of the Word

How far would you go to see God? Good news! You won’t have to travel too far. Let’s hop over to France and take a look at one of their “New French Extremity” films that has gotten horror fans excited over the years. Martyrs was released in 2008 and was not particularly made for the horror community. It is often referred to as a “yard stick” that other extreme cinema films should use to measure up against.

Martyrs starts with a flashback. The story is told in a bit of a backwards style. We are not given the story upfront of why we are seeing what we are, but the bits of information that we do get are well timed and relevant to what we are seeing. After the opening shot of a young girl running away from what seems to be an industrial site, we immediately cut to what appears to be a normal family having a regular morning. We meet one of our main characters, Lucie as she enters the home and slaughters the entire family. We haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of what this movie is about.

As the film progresses, we learn that Lucie was severely tortured as a young child and has killed this family, believing that they were the perpetrators. All of this culminates into a crazy religious cult and that’s all I can really tell you without spoiling too much. Cinematically, it’s a beautifully shot film. The acting is very good and of course, my favorite part, the director sticks to practical effects.

Martyrs 2008 Gun Scene

The director, Pascal Laugier, admits that the nihilistic themes of the movie are present because he was dealing with a severe bout of depression and suicidal thoughts. We can clearly see that throughout the film. It does a wonderful job portraying suffering in every sense of the word. Not only does the film present us with extreme gore and torture, it also poses philosophical questions about the afterlife that we often push to the wayside. This movie is not afraid to “get in your face” about it, leaving you uncomfortable to say the least.

The ending will leave you thinking about the events that you watched unfold for a long time. I highly suggest viewing this with a buddy because you will be itching to talk about what just happened. There was a 2015 American remake that I would avoid. Too much of the original nihilism does not make it into the remake and misses the mark completely on the entire theme and message. Personally, I don’t believe that it’s the masterpiece that everyone gushes over, but it is worth the watch.

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