(well... that's almost a high five)
I heard about Martyrs a few months ago when various websites were shunning the just announced Americanized re-make in the works. Apparently, sparkle lover Kristen Stewart was set to star in it but the rumors were quickly denied. Still, reading the description of Martyrs made it sound too polarizing to miss. I had to have an opinion about it, dagnabbit! Who wants to be the sucker at the dinner party without an opinion about Martyrs? Not me.
Without giving too much away plot-wise, the film centres around friends Anna and Lucie who grew up together in an orphanage where Lucie was placed after making a desperate escape from people who held her hostage and tortured her. Even into their twenties Lucie is tormented by what happened to her and seeks revenge and Anna follows her down a dark path where stuff like this:
Martyrs takes some terrifying and riveting turns. Director/writer Pascal Laugier weaves an intricate narrative that delivers an almost over-whelming emotional one-two at the end. Do not watch this movie if you are going through anything even vaguely emotional. Seriously. But, it is worth it if you can stomach it. Martyrs is a gory motherfucka. Like, Alexander Aja's High (or Haute) Tension gory. But what Martyrs gives us is the emotional impact of the violence. It permeates and takes over the characters. It becomes their driving force. The impact of violence on a human life and to human life is the difference between the specific and the general which is what Martyrs explores.
At best, Martyrs is a dark fairy tale that feels all too real. The characters, especially their relationship, puts Martyrs in the better category of horror films such as The Exorcist and The Shining where the emotional and psychological impact outweighs jump scares and stays with you long after the credits role.