Martyrs is a fascinating take on the psychological evils that extend into realities of individual characters and injects the audience with horror and disturbance but, also, evokes questions and curiosity until the very end.
The 2008 French-Canadian film directed by Pascal Laugier starts off with a young girl named Lucie (Jessie Pham) screaming and running out of an abandoned building. Lucie has been held prisoner and tortured for a long period of time. 15 years later, Lucie goes in search for her abusers to seek revenge and knocks on a family’s door and murders them all in hopes of ridding the monster that haunts her.
The movie is gruesome and sometimes unbearable to watch but Laugier and the two outstanding main roles, played by Mylène Jampanoï (Lucie) and Morjana Alaoui (Anna), Lucies best friend, made the story and torture work: understanding the level of each character’s actions and creating sympathy for each character and then simply pulling the pity from right under our feet as we thought we began to identify the direction of the film.
The film is different. 45 minutes into Martyrs and I really thought there was a dead-end for the story but I was shocked when the entire rhetoric of the movie shifted and a new chain of events evolved.
Martyr’s isn’t suitable for everyone. There is violence and specifically body mutilation which is probably the main reason why critics can’t stand it. Each main character experiences an intimate relationship of pain in their own way that isn’t just physical but very psychological. The movie challenges conventional themes that involve human torture where the antagonists aren’t simply sociopaths after blood, they are after an answer that has been a relatable search for centuries.
Using a balance of horror and potency in characters and themes, Martyrs was experimental and confronted taboos to cross film-making lines into a place where open-minded and closed-minded viewers were to react to something completely new.