Saturday, February 20, 2010

Martyrs - not a review (complete with spoilers)

So, the 4 Week Subtitle Sensation has been going well since Wednesday. The first film I watched was not Martyrs, and I promise I’ll do a post on what’s been seen since I started, but right now I need to get Martyrs out of my head. If only so I can free up my brain for watching other things.

Firstly I’m going to say that this post is only for people who have already seen the movie. You see, to write about Martyrs is to spoil it. I’m not going to do a synopsis, nor a summary. I’m just going to talk about my feelings about it so if you haven’t seen it, it may not make much sense.

Secondly I’m going to make sure you’re aware that things don’t often get to me. I watched Cannibal Holocaust, laughed at my friend for throwing up, and finished it by rather analytically stating that the director did himself a disservice by killing the animals but that I could see what point he was trying to make.

But Martyrs got to me. In a really big way. At first it goes along as expected. The creepy violence gets started a little earlier than expected (like, before the title appears) but that’s all good. I was creeped out with woman attacking the young girl, but nothing serious. It got serious once we arrived at the house. From *ding dong* *door opens* BOOM, I started getting more and more affected by this film.

What starts as a horror film becomes a study of insanity. The moment when you realise that Lucie is doing that shit to herself, it’s a revelation equivalent to Unbreakable. My brain had no idea what to do with the information. So, to maintain the order of things, my brain decided that she must have been completely nuts and that the family she just slaughtered were innocent.

Course, that’s when Anna finds the trap door with the tortured woman inside. The entire sequence with the tortured woman had me devastated. Devastated that Lucie had been right, devastated that I had doubted her, devastated for this innocent woman who had a metal plate stapled into her head to cover her eyes. To then hear the explanation that the same madness that caused Lucie to kill herself had caused the tortured woman to cut at her arm to get imaginary cockroaches off…

To be honest, what happens to Anna didn’t get to me as badly as the earlier scenes (that’s when my analytical side got to have a go, I found the concept of martyrdom intriguing). I’ve been thinking about what that might mean and I believe I have a greater fear of losing my wits than I do of experiencing great pain. Makes sense I guess. I just don’t think I’ve ever had it so clearly illustrated until now.

Quite a fucking film.


  1. This movie stayed with me for days and the concept of dying to prove the existence of god fucked with me for awhile. Being spoonfed organized religion since I was a kid and seeing the fervor it creates, this movie signifies the most extreme of steps in justifying your belief system. Truly horrifying.

  2. I call Martyrs transcendent horror. Horrific things happen to all involved but its supposedly for a religious or greater purpose reason.

    The fact they are justifying the torture of Anna makes you second guess what you just saw.

  3. For me Martyrs is one of the best horror films to come out last decade and for a lot of reasons. The scene you mention when you realize Lucie is the one hurting herself is so well executed and the way it unfolds is very chilling. What encapsulates the entire film for me though, is the final word that the old lady says before she kills herself, which is "doubt." Really left my brain fried with many different things that one word could mean.