After long last I finally sit down to watch Pascal Laugier's shockingly realistic 'Martyrs'. I will say first, to put things into context, I deliberately avoided any information regarding this movie, so all I knew was that it is yet another visceral French made exploitation and, having since read all about the movies festival hype, I can see what all the fuss was about and can say with some conviction that I am absolutely stunned by the movie, and genuinely cannot recommend it enough.
The plot is a real roller coaster, and amazingly enough it is only in the latter section of the movie the true angle of the movie comes into play. The opening credits show two friends meeting in an orphanage, one, a victim of torturous child abuse, the other, a young girl who, at an early age, took charge of the unfortunate. The films kicks off 15 years after this introduction, where, all grown up, the abused child tracks down the family responsible for her abuse. Determined to payback the couple, if it is possible, for her years of torture the two break into the house, and...
Well I will let you see. Soon enough we are pulled into a plot which can only be described as a full assault on the senses.
I really don't want to give away anything further.
Rest assured the acting, especially when you consider the circumstances, is superb and frighteningly convincing. The camera work and artistic direction,make more than an impact! The pace keeps you on the edge of your seat at times, at others it lingers, not to bore us, but to force us to watch the extremely uncomfortable content on the screen.
The gore, and exploitative content (again not giving anything away) is more dirty and grimy than anything I think I have ever watched. Don't think it takes the cheap and sleazy cop out of abusive rape, nah, that shit is left well back in the 1980s, this is full on mutilation, both self inflicted and enforced, as well as some really satisfying old school gore. The effects are top notch, and whilst I realise the over use of the phrase, it is so very very real. I think, whilst some of the other outstanding recent French releases, namely 'Haute Tension' and 'Frontiers', might have been more gruesomely gory, what 'Martyrs' lacks in guts, it makes up in brutality. Some of the scenes are really awkward to watch.
Overall, for me this movie is a true piece of art, not gratuitously used in terms of being a good film, but in its literal sense. It demands an emotional response, not just whilst you are watching,as this comes non-voluntary, but afterwards it will not leave your mind for days. The mark of a truly great movie. Again, I cannot recommend this enough.