Review – Martyrs (2008)

By Daniel Hart
Published: October 8, 2017 (Last updated: February 8, 2024)

It feels to me that the disfigured ghoulish woman will be used in horror films forever. In the case of Martyrs, it inflicts terror on a young girl that has been missing for over a year, later found and brought in by an orphanage. It appears this ghoulish figure is the result of whatever happened to Lucie when she disappeared. Luckily, her friend Anna is aware of her complications. What isn’t so lucky is that fifteen years later, Lucie enters a family home and butchers each member to death with a shotgun. The ghoulish figure, which I would love to kick, returns.

Martyrs as a whole is a difficult film to comprehend. I was immediately brought in by its sadistic and slow-paced nature. The blood, the flesh, the constant fatality forced upon Lucie. There are many scenes of her battling this creature, and you feel helpless watching the bloodied spectacle. You can almost feel specks of blood hit your skin. Of course, the entire film seemingly celebrates itself as pristinely gory, but it contains itself respectfully whilst keeping the storyline moving.

For Martyrs, it is the story that captures you. It kidnaps you to witness the gore, which you become so succumbed by that you have no choice to sit there and grasp what is actually going on. As the plot develops you begin to realise that there is more to this than obscene violence and that there is something worth comprehending. What Martyrs becomes is a major spoiler, but I can say that it is worth the patience. Amongst all the ripping flesh, screams and slash and hack scenes, you have two leading female actors giving it their all. Their performances give the impression that their undesirable environment was understood. There is a sense of uncomfortableness for the audience when the characters find it normal to walk past scattered flesh. They do not appear swayed by it and it is convincing that this was intentional.

My one criticism is that I wish the second half of the film was emphasised more in the first half. By the time it flows into what is essentially the second and final act, the narrative feels completely disjointed. Like two different films. Regardless, Martyrs is worth the watch.

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