Released: 2008

Written and Directed by Pascal Laugier

Martyrs, a 2008 French gore horror film, is basically the tale of two separate films. The first is the story of a young girl, Anna, who escapes a torture chamber and is, subsequently, admitted to an orphanage. She befriends a younger girl, Lucie, and, fifteen years later, she seeks revenge on the family that tortured her. The second tale begins with Lucie being tortured by a group of ultra rich cult members seeking a glimpse of the afterlife by tormenting women until they become ‘martyrs’.

The first half is a brilliantly artistic revenge film which does not feature an overwhelming amount of gore; just enough to get the audience’s nerves peaked and tension built. After Anna obtains revenge on the family, with the assistance of a shotgun, the audience is left to question whether Anna targeted the correct family or if she is merely insane. Tension builds as Lucie is caught in an ethical dilemma between her analysis of the situation and the story Anna has provided for her. The portion closes as the horrible reality of Anna’s existence is revealed to Lucie.

The second half is an amalgam of the majority of gore horror themes seen in the recent past. The amount of gore and torture is so vast that it dulls the senses of the audience to the point where the film gets repetitive and, ultimately, boring. It’s hard to believe that such a wonderfully produced first half could be followed with scene in which a character is skinned alive and leaves the audience wishing the film would end. Most people probably mistake this for the sensation of hoping the ultraviolence will end quickly because of the shock value; however, this is just not the case.

Unfortunately, this film leaves the audience wondering what happened to the mysterious and brutal first half of the film. No matter how well done the first half was, the damage done by the latter portion created a situation where a positive final verdict is nearly unobtainable.

Rating: 4/10

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