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May 01, 2009



I've been dying to know what you thought of this movie. I can't stop thinking about it. I tried to watch another horror film shortly after and it seemed so pointless. Martyrs might have actually broken the ankles of the horror genre.


Nice one, price! I was definitely hobbled after seeing this. As in, curl up into a twitchy, thumb-sucking ball, hobbled.

Brilliant review, Rich. I know I say that every time, but this one is seriously Pulitzer material. It's a tough film to articulate, but you nailed it for me.

In traditional horror flicks, the victims are quickly dispatched, the killer's motivations revealed, the final girl is empowered, the tables are turned, the killer is graphically neutralized, and the audience is gratified. How often in real life do people's experiences (POWs, kidnap/rape victims, etc.) follow this script? Never. True-to-life misery is random, pointless, and unimaginably interminable. It doesn't end neatly before the credit crawl.

"Martyrs" was so unflinching and true to its vision you really gotta just break down and salute it.

(Also, any plans to get Gabe involved in another Salo-stlye movie night? 'Cause that was fun.)


(Also, any plans to get Gabe involved in another Salo-stlye movie night? 'Cause that was fun.)

Or sex? 'Cause that would be fun.


watching now...


I downloaded this the moment I saw this post (I only read up until you suggested we watch first), and I just finished it not 10 minutes ago.

Up until now, my favorite horror flick has been High Tension, so I'm glad I've found a new one. I really don't even know what to say about this movie at the moment as it's still so fresh in my mind. I've never cried during a horror film before, but during the scene where she was being force fed and she let it happen without resisting after hearing Lucie's voice, some tears welled up.

I'm not really worried about not hearing what Anna said to the Mademoiselle - I feel that no director/writer/producer/anything would have been able to come up with something to satisfy the audience; no one can tackle the question of what happens after death without clear personal bias. The way it was left leaves it up to the viewer to determine what she saw, which, I believe, wasn't truly life-after-death, but a state of mind that is totally disconnected from the body and would not continue after the brain has ceased, thus meaning that Mademoiselle killed herself in vain, whether or not she did it because she felt at the time that she would never achieve what Anna saw or because she was anxious to see it herself. I believe that what Anna saw was unique for her situation; the torture forced her to detach from her surroundings. She wasn't ecstatic, she went insane.

I really wish I could put what I'm trying to say more clearly into words, but I guess I'm trying to interpret this from the point of view of someone who doesn't believe in an afterlife whatsoever. The true horror was that the cultists were seeking knowledge about something they would never know, torturing girls to the point of insanity (which in each individual case manifested itself differently; Anna hearing Lucie's voice comforting her and encouraging her led her to an 'ecstatic' state rather than Anna seeing a fellow victim or said victim seeing cockroaches leading them to self-mutilation) only to heed their words as divine knowledge. It's disturbing to think of it that way, rather than that they achieved what they were looking for.


Also, as the Mademoiselle said, when people are pushed to that point, they see things. Lucie saw the distorted version of the girl Anna found, and that girl saw bugs everywhere. We never got to see if Lucie's voice was coming from a vision of Lucie herself or was just an auditory hallucination (or potentially just Anna's inner thoughts and memories). So, if the Mademoiselle knew that the previous girls had been seeing things that she knew not to be actually there, merely created by the victims' minds, then how was she so readily available to accept what Anna saw as something real? Anna's personality was severely different than Lucie's, she was a nurturer, so of course she wouldn't react the same to the torture as Lucie or possibly the other girl had.

Also, I feel that Anna was more ready to accept her fate because she had technically been suffering all her life; she tended to Lucie's needs and had been the sole person with knowledge as to what Lucie went through. She knew she wasn't going to break free so she acquiesced to the beatings sooner than most. She also had just been through so much trauma, with Lucie killing the entire family and then herself. She had lost the person she loved (she tried to kiss her, remember), so what did she have to fight for anymore?


God, I really did get a high from this movie. I hope I'm not the only one.


The reviews here in France for this movie were surprinsingly bad, so I am glad to read this review. I agree very much, I also thought that this film's plot was very successful for an audience used to horror films. It uses the cliché plot twists of the genre and lets us get comfortable in our understanding of them, before sending us in an opposite direction. I would argue that this is the most important quality of the film, because if it

ac (coco)

...(sorry) because if its point was actually to offer a discussion on after life and martyrdom, it would have started to talk about it a bit earlier in the film. To me the film was almost a love letter to horror fans.


I too downloaded this after reading your pre-post, and I just stayed up 'til 6am to watch it.

Holy hell. So worth it.

I don't even know where to begin in analysing it, and I'm lacking in the encyclopedic film knowledge or critical skills I'd need to bring anything new to the conversation anyway.

I do want to say, however, that I was revolted to read just now that there are negotiations underway to make a US version. WHY DOES THIS HAPPEN? All the nuances of the story are invariably lost in American remakes. Please, someone help me understand.


An American version? Why does this always happen? I saw the Thai version of Shutter on the Sundance channel and I really liked it, then I saw a commercial for the American version two months later and I wanted to throw up. I also saw the Korean (I think it was Korean) movie 'A Tale of Two Sisters,' which I thought was really good as well, then almost a year later the commercials for 'The Uninvited' started coming out, and I thought it looked too similar, only to find out it too was a remake, causing me to want to throw up again. American horror is awful. As soon as this starts to be advertised here, I'll do my best to spread the original version among my friends like wildfire.


Wait, I have to edit. "MODERN American horror is awful." The Birds is still one of my favorite movies ever.

Fucking goddammit, look what i just found:

The Birds (2011)
With George Clooney, Naomi Watts.

I feel like I need to start an organization to stop these things from happening. It really makes me mad. I need to punch Naomi Watts in the face, stat.


OT but Rich are you ever going to tell us what the amazing opportunity was that required you to take some time off from blogging a while back? My money is on the idea that Vh1 has hired you to write for one of its reality shows. Am I right?? Am I right?? If that's not what happened, it totally should.


Okay. I downloaded this after reading the first couple of sentences here, then I watched it.


It's basically the Passion of the Christ as a horror movie. It felt like Laugier saw V for Vendetta and wanted to make a movie off the Natalie Portman in a Dark Room parts. I LOVE horror movies and would've followed Miike off a bridge at points, but this was manipulative as hell (the movie was, I mean). I dunno, maybe I'll watch it again.


Thank you for writing this because I watched it after seeing your post and that was the best movie I have ever seen. Now I feel like putting a gun in my mouth, there's never going to be another first time.


Stunning. For the first time i found myself consciously acknowledging that it was "just a movie" Though I like horror, I am squeamish enough that i was disturbed for months just from reading you review on Salo. This was a different experience. I downloaded it after reading the post intro and kept my mouse on the stop button the entire time. However, when Anna is captured, the movie really changed for me. It does an excellent job of creating an authentic sense of, well martyrdom and religious fervor and mortality. The sight of all those elderly people waiting to hear what will happen to many of them very soon was very potent. The imdb link above expresses mostly what I think of the ending, basically the horror of knowing that we can imagine exactly what happens after death.

Also, in response to the condemnation of remakes, generally they are disappointing, but I feel that The Ring was a much more effective and interesting film than Ringu.

Anyways, thanks for telling me about this movie.


thanks for the recomendation, agree with all that you said. crazy film.
and like all good threads on imdb, they get deleted.


It's been almost a week since I saw it (and commented above) and I'm still thinking about Martyrs now and then. What makes it NOT "torture porn" is the motivation of the people conducting the experiments.

In fact, I've seen so many reviews dismiss it as "torture porn" that I can only surmise that they're either very lazy reviewers who base their opinions on the reviews of others, or they didn't actually watch the entire film.

(I don't hate modern American horror in its entirety, I just think it's arrogant to think you can re-make a film better than its creators already did. And it offends me on some level that Americans need (?) a film to be American and feature Hollywood stars to relate/appreciate/understand it.)


I just watched this last night. My interpretation of the ending was this: Since there was no talk of Heaven or Hell, simply "life after death", I think the Madame killed herself after hearing what Anna said because it was something blissful and the Madame was eager to experience it. The reason why she didn't tell everyone what Anna had said was because there would be a possibility of mass suicides.


I watched this last night when I saw you had posted about it and, like kolimpah, I had to keep reminding myself it was just a movie. It was so difficult to watch but I couldn't look away. The acting was superb and the story was outstanding...unlike any horror film I've ever seen. I still haven't fully processed it, but just wanted to thank you for your very insightful review and I thought your assessment of the ending was really interesting.


an american remake with a bigger budget could offer a better made skinning. I thought it looked very fake and it kind of brought down my scare level. As far as I can tell it's the only thing that is worth remaking.


Like other commenters here, I downloaded this movie after reading the first few sentences of the review. I finally got time to watch it and I am speechless. Everything you say in this review is spot on.

I was peeking through my fingers through the first half. The ghoul lady scared the shit out of me, and the rest of it was amazing. The acting was great. I loved the kiss in the bathroom scene.
I don't watch horror anymore but I was compelled to watch this one. Uggghhh god I'm gonna be up all night now. Fuck.


i thought this movie was BOGUS. not scary, not at all. i feel like they tried to jam three movies into one.


I almost hate that I had to read your whole post to decide that I wanted to see this - and still it sat in the Netflix envelope for two months. I'm bad with horror movies, even though I'm obsessed with the genre, I needed to be sure it was worth seeing. It totally was. It says a lot that even though I knew the whole story already I was still scared shitless and completely blown away. And even though I slept horribly the night after, I'm glad I saw it, I don't think any other horror film can beat it.

And as for the talk of an American remake - I'm not always entirely against remakes of foreign films. Europe and Asia are usually the ones with the good ideas, America has the budget to make them look good, that sounds like a good marriage to me. But when it comes to films like, hell no. American filmmakers don't have the ability to make a film with this level of violence without turning it into torture porn.



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