Martyrs DVD cover

Martyrs (2008)

Lucie escaped a life of torture years ago, but she’s never been able to put the demons to rest.  Now, she’s found those responsible and is going to make them pay.  Her friend, Anna, is less convinced that she’s found the right people.  But neither knows the real story.

Beginning as a straightforward revenge film, this movie dives right into the action and seems to reach its conclusion about 20 minutes in.  In actuality, that’s when things really start moving.  Lucie exacts bloody revenge on the people who tortured her all those years ago, but the spirit that has dogged her all these years won’t be sated so easily.  Ultimately, it’s up to Anna to unravel the mystery of what really happened to Lucie all those years ago.  And she’d better do it fast, because now it’s happening to her as well.

This is a hard film to discuss, because so much of it lies in its twists and turns.  As Anna is dragged into the world she thought she was helping Lucie finally forget, things get darker and more sinister.  There’s not a lot of suspense, though.  This quickly becomes a brutal gorefest – an endurance test.  The mystery, at first, is why.  It then becomes a grueling trek to see just how much the human psyche can take and what lies beyond that breaking point.

This isn’t a movie for everyone.  It’s powerful and visceral and it pulls no punches, with antagonists that are bound and determined to visit every sort of hell they can imagine upon their subjects.  The thing that sets this film apart from standard torture porn is that there’s a reason behind the madness.  A twisted reason, to be sure, but there’s a goal and a method instead of the usual mindless violence.  That alone makes this film stand out.

Not everybody is going to appreciate the ending and it’s possible that was the point: the search doesn’t always yield answers that we like or even that we understand, but this is a voyage you won’t soon forget.

Stars: 4/5



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