Thursday, May 6, 2010

Martyrs (2008)

Martyrs is a French film released in 2008 by Pascale Laugier and picked up for distribution by the Weinstein Company. The French don't screw around when it comes to horror. Gallons of gore and bleak views on the human condition. This film in particular rides on the last wave of French horror and offers up distressing tone shifts, unexpected turns and a powerful narrative.

The plot synopsis is going to be short because it's hard to describe it without giving away the film. The film is broken down into three plotlines. The first plot thread deals with a girl who was tortured. She ends up going to an orphanage and making a friend. Fairly linear so far. The film then takes a left turn and we are introduced to a family seated at a table talking about what is going on in their lives. Then, the doorbell rings. After that, everything goes to hell. The last plot thread is for you find out. The key to a good viewing of Martyrs is this: the less you know the more effective the impact will be.

Director Pascale Laugnier brings out really good performances out of the actors. He also knows how to play with audience expectation. Right when you think you know where the film is going it takes a sharp turn into the unexpected. The gore and brutality the film has to offer is important in telling this type of story. It uses it to make a more intellectual statement than films that use it to shock its audiences.

The last act in particular and the concept around it is as disturbing as the visuals we are presented with. Martyrs will get under your skin and shake you to your core.
It's one of those rare film that transcends the genre it is apart of.


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