Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Martyrs (2008)

It's been a long time since I've seen a movie that truly scared me. It's been a VERY long time since a movie caused me to run from the room screaming and shielding my eyes. And I cannot even remember a time where I've hid behind the doorjamb in my bedroom, begging my fiance to tell me when that image is finally off of the screen so that I could come back in. Martyrs is that movie and then some.

It is very difficult to describe this movie without giving away important plot points and details. The premise is pretty basic: As a child, Lucie escapes from a warehouse where she's been brutally abused. She goes to an orphanage, where she befriends Anna. Although Lucie is not able to open up to anyone regarding what happened during her captivity, she forms a lasting bond with Anna.

Fast forward to fifteen years later and the two girls are joined at the hip, and possibly even more than friends. (The unrequited lesbian love theme appears common in French horror films) Lucie has decided to track down her former abusers and confront them. Anna is supportive of this plan, but only on a "watch and see" basis. Lucie, however, has other, more violent plans.

While helping clean up her friend's destruction, Anna is confronted by how truly and deeply disturbed Lucie is, represented by a Grudge-esque ghost who appears to follow her around and incites self mutilation.

At this point, the film takes a complete and horrifying turn. Although the first and second portions of the movie definitely relate to one another in the grand scheme of things, the second half of the movie is incredibly heart wrenching and terrifying. It is truly a cold and fierce look at torture and the pure amount of suffering that humans can survive. There's nothing Hostel or Turistas-like about this movie. It's a frightening look at the capabilities of human beings, and certainly not for the weak-hearted. The ending will leave some confused, and some fulfilled.

Comments on sites such as IMDB have led me to believe that viewers have very dissenting opinions about this movie. Some were profoundly disturbed, some were beyond grossed-out, and some, for whatever reason, just could not take the movie seriously.

I do personally believe that women will be more affected by this movie than men. Not only because the two main characters are women, but because the observations and statements made about females and their ability to survive is quite true. A tattoo artist once told me that women are much easier to tattoo than men, because while men can get punched in the head and get back up, women are used to the long, enduring pain that comes with something like childbirth.

I was deeply affected by this film, and weeks later, still find myself thinking about it. The only flaw with this movie (which is obviously unavoidable) is that, like Seven, you'll never be able to see it for the first time again. You'll never be able to experience the true shock and horror once you view the twists and turns. So do yourself a favor, don't Google image search this movie, don't read any spoilers, and just go into this movie with a clean slate. You'll be glad you did...although you might lose a little sleep.

Grade: A+ (Audition: harrowing and nightmarish, yet also thought-provoking. Sticks with you long after you've seen it.)