Friday, May 25, 2012

Random: Revisiting Martyrs

**SPOILERS AHEAD!!  If you don't want this movie to be ruined for you, read my previous review**

You may find it hard to believe, but I talk about horror movies a lot.  In addition to talking about horror at random, I also get lots of questions and comments about horror movies.   Many people comment that they can't watch horror, since they get too scared.  I've watched hundreds of horror flicks, and I no longer scare easily.  Many people ask me what my favorite horror movie is.  That question ends up being subjective, since my favorite horror movie is not necessarily the one that scared me the most.  For the record, my favorite is The Devil's Rejects.

On some occasions, people ask me the last movie that scared me, especially hardened horror fans who haven't been scared in a while.  Over the last few years, the same name has been coming up over and over again: Martyrs.   When I first saw this movie, I had nightmares for weeks.  It was several months before I could give it a second watch.  It's been lingering in the back of my head lately, begging for another viewing, and I thought maybe another blog post could do it justice.

First off, watching this in French with the subtitles is the only way to do it.  I love watching foreign movies, but I loathe watching them dubbed in English.  In my opinion, it just takes away from the sincerity and emotion of the acting.  The two stars of Martyrs, Morjana Alaoui (Anna) and  Mylene Jampanoi (Lucie) were incredible.  The roles took an almost endless amount of raw emotion, which they were able to deliver perfectly.  Even the small parts are acting precisely, from the little kids in the orphanage to the teenage boy confronted at the breakfast table. 

Their relationship dynamic is also so interesting.  Anna clearly plays the mother role in childhood, and even coddles Lucie as an adult.  Not only does she come rushing to her friend after she commits murder, but she cleans up the mess while Lucie naps. 

The effects are amazing, even the little things, like the blood spattering the breakfast dishes.  The creature/dead girl, the girl locked in the basement, the skinning....amazeballs.  Where so many movies lately use jump scares to make viewers' hearts leap, Martyrs uses visceral scares that cut straight to your core. 

Not everything about this movie is perfect.  Like why does Anna sleep when she has a random dying girl in the tub?  And the voice of Lucie that she hears in the basement borders on cheesy. And why do they bother to clean her, but never change her clothes? And the's a love it or hate it type of thing.  What did Anna say to Madamemoiselle?  What did "keep doubting" mean?  The writer definitely meant for there to be questions left unanswered and room for interpretation. 

Now here's a bonus question for people who have seen it.  Is it at all possible that the girl in the basement with all the metal things is the girl that Lucie left in the beginning?  This was my first inclination, but then I sort of figured that no one could have lived that long in those conditions. 

So the moral of this story?  If you've seen Martyrs, share your opinions in the comments.   If you haven't seen it, definitely check it out.  Multiple viewings have not changed my opinion that this is one of the most horrifying and visceral horror movies ever made. 


Alx said...

Hey, I'm glad someone else wondered about whether it's possible to live that long under those circumstances.

That movie really depressed me. I wanted to enjoy it as a horror movie where deep down you know that the things you see are fiction and they are supposed to "stay there" like you don't have to carry them around in your head after you watch the movie. It's a movie, it's great for it's genre and that is all. Unfortunately with this movie I could not. If you're wondering whether it's possible for someone to survive that long under these circumstances, well yes it is. We do it to various species of animals in medical research. If you're wondering whether it's even possible to survive being flayed, yes it is, we do it to raccoon and chinchillas and other animals skinned alive for fur because it is a waste of time to kill them. All this horrors shown in that film are (at least partly) the reality for many species of animals. Only when humans do it to each other, we call it sick and atrocious, when humans do it to other animals, we call it scientific research, we call it fur farming and we call it meat industry. So for these reasons I couldn't enjoy the movie the way it was mean to be seen. But working in the field of vet medicine I have seen that human cruelty has no limits!

And as for the girl that Anna found in the basement, I too thought she might be the same girl that Lucie left behind 15 years ago. It is possible to survive, but then I thought, would they bother with her for 15 years of more if she did not achieve that "martyrdom" state they were looking for?

And as for the ending, I have an opinion of what the "keep doubting" might mean: Most people are doubtful about the existence of anything at all after death and whatever Anna whispered in Madam's ear must have made her want to reach that stage, the afterlife, faster. So, she told the man, yeah, keep doubting, I can't wait to get there and see it for myself!

The Scream Queen said...

@Alx: Well, being a shelter volunteer and general animal activist, I believe it's sick if it's done to animals as well.

I do believe this movie really sticks with you, and there's been very few movies that really stay with me over time, and Martyrs is one of them.