Martyrs (2008)

martyrs poster 2008 movie
6.5 Overall Score
Story: 6/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Interesting concept

Hard to watch, feels liked missed opportunities with story and characters

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Martyrs

Studio:  Eskwad/Wild Bunch/TCB Film

Genre(s):  Horror

Release Date(s):  May 2008 (Cannes)/September 3, 2008 (France)/April 28, 2009 (US)

MPAA Rating:  R

martyrs lucie jessie pham

Do you feel lucky, punk?

In 1971, Lucie Jurin (Jessie Pham) escapes a nightmare as a child…but never finds the people she says hurt her.  Befriending Anna Assaoui (Erika Scott) at the orphanage, Lucie is haunted by the events.  Now, fifteen years later, Lucie (Mylène Jampanoï) believes she found the people behind her torture, and Anna (Morjana Alaoui) finds herself cleaning up after Lucie’s vicious revenge…but Anna isn’t sure if Lucie is telling the truth or if her insanity has led to terror.

Written and directed by Pascal Laugier, Martyrs is a Canada and France joint venture horror movie.  The film premiered at Cannes and received mixed reviews from critics.

I heard about Martyrs but never saw Martyrs.  When I looked for the movie, all I could find was the American version of Martyrs…which was must less polarizing and generally hated.  I watched Martyrs with the hope of being really impressed by it, but I didn’t feel that Martyrs really caught me.  Due to aspects of the plotline, a ******spoiler alert****** exists for the rest of the review.

martyrs anna assaoui erika scott torture

This is not the way to welcome guests

The movie is considered part of a French wave of extreme horror films, and like High Tension, the movie plays with what the viewer is seeing.  The film has a great opening with Lucie slaughtering a seemingly average family that she feels is responsible for the torture.  The movie works best in this part where you don’t know if Lucie might be crazy.  It is quickly revealed that Lucie was right, and there is a cabal of killers trying to find out what is happening after death…and once that happens, the movie just turns in to a torture porn that is tough to watch.

The cast is good.  I liked Mylène Jampanoï and wish that her character could have stayed around more because the relationship between her and Morjana Alaoui feel like the real core of the movie.  I also like the short introduction of the family that becomes the target of Lucie’s rage, but in general, once the secret of the family is revealed the movie degrades into an abusive bloody mess.

martyrs flayed anna erika scott

Next time my friend invites me to a nice country home, I’m saying no…

The movie is really gory once everything starts to go down.  Tons of blood and it all leads up to Anna’s character being completely flayed alive in the attempt to see beyond death.  The horrific look of the film goes along with the themes of the movie, but it makes it tough to watch…especially seeing a chained woman just being beat on for a chunk of the film.

Martyrs has some moments, but as a whole I don’t enjoy the film.  “Enjoy” is also a strange word to use because the movie isn’t supposed to be enjoyable…it is horrific, but it is one of those horror films that has no hope and leaves a pit in your stomach.  That is something that only some of the grossest films can do.  Martyrs does pull that off.  The remake of Martyrs was released in 2015.

Related Links:

Martyrs (2015)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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