Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Phil's Horror Watch, Day 13, Phil watches MARTYRS (2008)-October 13, 2011

Hey folks! My horror movie marathon continues with Day Thirteen! I decided to stay in France for one more day to watch another of the country's most disturbing horror films of all time. With MARTYRS, the French offer up another modern European horror classic that will be talked about for years to come!

French Theatrical poster (2008)
The film's about two young girls named Lucie (Mylene Jampanoi) and Anna (Morjana Alaoui). In the beginning of the film, we are told via a flashback that Lucie escaped from a disused abattoir where she has been imprisoned and physically abused for a lengthy period of time. No signs of sexual abuse are identified, and the perpetrators and their motivations remain a mystery. Lucie is placed in an orphanage, where she is befriended by a young girl named Anna. Lucie vows to Anna that she will one day exact painful vengeance on her captors.

Fast forward fifteen years later and we see Lucie and Anna still together and Lucie thinks she has located two of her initial captors via a picture in a newspaper. With Anna warily in tow, Lucie pays a visit to the couples home with a loaded shotgun. She hopes by exacting some revenge that she will be exorcising a creature that plagues her, a creature in the form of a girl she left behind at the slaughterhouse and who takes delight in cutting Lucie to shreds at any opportune moment. But, in the end, it is Anna, not Lucie, who learns the truth of the girl as well as the real secret behind Lucie's captors and their terrifying mission.

The film is an extraordinary example of how we watch a horror film, but it examines what makes it horror. For starters, the subject matter is one of the true horrors that people wished it didn't exist: child abuse. Now while the film exposes Lucie as a test subject for her captor's experiments, the bottom line of it all was that Lucie was abused, and came from an abused home, thus her mental abuse haunted her till it was frothing for retaliation. Juvenile delinquency has been an issue for years, but has anyone really paid attention to the plight of the children? We create the environment for these kids, and as a result, a poor upbringing leads to an unhappy child. Child abuse is caused by many different reasons: lack of loving and caring parents, happy childhood, violence, drugs, drinking, bullying, physical and sexual abuse, lack of attention, and so forth. With Lucie, it was a variety of reasons that culminated with her committing murder to silence her inner demons. However, as the film progresses, sometimes those demons can be passed on. In this case, it was passed on to Anna, who by the end of the film, suffered the fate that was destined to be Lucie's.

The film was directed by Pascal Laugier, who also wrote the screenplay. The film was categorized as a new example of new French horror films; much like HIGH TENSION, FRONTIER(S), and INSIDE with regards to the level of violence it depicts. Laugier has said that he is in the middle of negotiations to have the film remade in America. The remake will be directed by Daniel Stamm (THE LAST EXORCISM) and the screenplay will be written by Mark Smith (VACANCY). The film was released by Canal Horizons in France on September 3, 2008. It was released on DVD by the Weinstein Company in April of 2009.

MARTYRS is harrowing, thought-provoking, brutal horror film that fans have been enjoying since the films release. For those who have weak stomachs may want to skip this film. But for those who are brave enough to sit through this film for the grotesque and enlightening 99 minutes, you will have seen one of the most original horror films in years!

MARTYRS is currently available on DVD. To purchase a copy, visit your local retailer or visit the Amazon website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!


  1. Martyrs is beyond any constriction of film I've decided, it's quite on its own in originality. I was left with that last image in my head for days, and the final actions of 'Madam' are still haunting.

    This is a great review and I love your analysis for children's violence and its impact spoken through Lucie's story. But I'm disappointed that they really want to attempt an American remake.

  2. Thanks for the kind words! I too am surprised about the upcoming remake. The film is really violent and out there, taking on child abuse, teen violence, and religious simpletons. This type of film can't be remade here because of the MPAA. They would destroy the film.