|MARTYRS (director/writer: Pascal Laugier; screenwrer: EG Smithcinematographers: Nathalie Moliavko-Visotzky/Stephane Martin; editor: Sebastien Prangere; music: Alex & Willie Cortes/Seppuku Paradigm; cast: Morjana Alaoui (Anna), Mylene Jampanoi (Lucie), Catherine Begin (Mademoiselle), Robert Toupin (Mr Belford, Father), Patricia Tulasne (Mrs. Belford, Mother), Isabelle Chassé (The Creature), Mike Chute (The Executioner), Anie Pascale (The Female Executioner), Emilie Miskdjian (The Tortured), Juliette Gosselin (Marie), Xavier Dolan-Tadros (Antoine), Jessie Pham (Lucie at 10); Runtime: 100; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Richard Grandpierre/Simon Trottier; Bir Film (Weinstein); 2008-Canada/France-in French with English subtitles)|
|"It should fare well with fans of
hardcore gore looking for something subversive."
by Dennis Schwartz
Torture and sadism rule this arthouse splatter film
by French director-writer Pascal Laugier ("The
Brotherhood of the Wolf"/"House of
Voices"/"The Tall Man"). It flaunts its
extremist filming style of violence and in the end
poses uncomfortable questions about martyrdom.
battered young Lucie (Jessie Pham) manages to escape
from her mystery captors, who held her in an abandoned
slaughterhouse and abused her. The traumatized
ten-year-old is removed from the questionable family
and is placed in an orphanage, where she befriends
another victim of child abuse, Anna (Morjana
Alaoui). The new friend is not sure
whether Lucie’s fears are real or imagined, which is
also the way the viewer sees it.
film jumps ahead 15 years to when the now
revenge-minded nutty young adult Lucie
(Mylène Jampanoï) in a cold-blooded manner
uses a shotgun to execute the upscale
Belford family of four at breakfast. Afterward she
phones Anna to say she got even with the family
who tortured her. When Anna comes over, she's told
by the bloodied Lucie she was attacked by a naked
woman monster brandishing a razor. The unfortunate
Anna learns to her regret that Lucie's attacker
was only in her head, as was everything else.
It results in a superbly well-executed surreal film, eschewing the usual slasher film formulaic devices in favor of the psychologically macabre. It's filled with many shocking excessive violent scenes and a profoundly twisted Grand Guignol conclusion. It should fare well with fans of hardcore gore looking for something subversive, while others might not take such delight in all the gore and its inventive but awkward loopy ending.
REVIEWED ON 10/31/2015 GRADE: B
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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