MARTYRS – 2008


plot: The Brotherhood of the Wolf director Pascal Lauguier follows his 2004 thriller House of Voices with this relentlessly brutal tale of a girl who suffered unimaginable abuse as a young child, and the unspeakable horrors that unfold when she arrives at an isolated cabin in the woods fifteen years later. The story begins as the young, badly battered Lucie (Mylène Jampanoï) — obviously the victim of inhuman abuse — is hospitalized after somehow managing to escape her sadistic captors. Nearly catatonic after her life-altering ordeal, Lucie only manages to become functional again as a result of her friendship with Anna (Morjana Alaoui), a fellow abuse victim who selflessly reaches out to the badly damaged girl. Fifteen years later, Lucie guns down an entire family in cold blood. Is Lucie seeking belated vengeance against the people who tortured her as a young girl, or has her fragile psyche finally snapped, resulting in the bloody demise of an innocent family? Later, when Lucie calls on her old friend Anna, the truth about Lucie’s traumatic early life experience slowly comes into focus. ~ Jason Buchanan, All Movie Guide

For those of you who have been following my Twitter is already obvious that Martyrs is one my latest obsessions. According to my taste, Martyrs is hands down the best horror movie of the past few years, and after watching many of those flicks that have been labeled “torture porn” i will say that this is the only one worthy of such name. I have been watching (and re-watching) an incredibly large number of french movies lately, so i’m gonna put aside the K-Cinema category for one brief moment, take your hand, and carry you down the wonderful rabbit hole called “The French Extreme Wave”. Hopefully during this journey you will be as delighted as i have been.

Or disgusted, for what it matters.



The story is schoking, stunning, brave, brutal and moving, and even though i’m sure many viewers will either love it or really hate it, i’m gonna say that it’s a fucking masterpiece and that it has to be seen. Martyrs is gonna brutally drag you down a downward spiral of everything morally wrong and sick, push all kinds of boundaries, leaving you speechless, angry, and quite uncomfortable, as you are forced to get a taste of what real torture is like.

It’s almost like you’re gonna hate what you’re watching, but won’t be able to help but loving to hate what you’re watching.


The movie is beautifully shot (i really have a soft spot for good photography), really well paced, and it will keep you glued to the screen within the first 5 minutes up until the end. You may most likely forget to breathe until it’s over. The storytelling covers your every needs: there’s gore, there’s ghosts, hot young girls, torture scenes, flashbacks, loving and moving moments, all topped with a good soundtrack and a great camera work.


You have been warned tho, if you’re easily offended and cannot deal with real brutality literally shoved down your throat, Martyrs will result in  a monster almost impossible to swallow. And i’m saying this because if you ever experienced any kind of abuse in your life, you will definitely sympathise with the characters and maybe feel a little sick to your stomach.  And if you haven’t, well, you will feel just plain downright uncomfortable and probably wish you never started watching this movie, and again, feel a little sick to your stomach.


So go ahead and give this masterpiece a try.

If you’re either looking for entertainment or disgust, you’re gonna get what you asked for.

Whether you like it or not.


23 Responses to “Martyrs”


  2. hagiblog Says:

    I had heard so much about this one that I actually watched it without any subtitles. That would be fine if I spoke any French at all and I didn’t really think that my mother would sit through it to translate! HAHA!

    The last 15 mins is brutal to watch and at first I thought it took away from the rest of the film. After watching I had to find out what the whole plot was about anyway and it put the final scenes into context. It really is a great movie but it can be a little hard to watch. This genre coming out of French cinema is insane.

  3. @KTDP INDEED!!!!!!!! the look on my face the first time i watched, was that of a little girl into a candy store with fucking fairies serving glittery treats and a pink unicorn to take me home.

    @hagiblog: i’m gonna totally be arrogant now and say i was surprised my french was still good enough to understand everything with no subtitles (ahh, being european and having to study 1234355 languages in school really paid out) AND i’m sure the point of the director was to make the viewer disturbed (hence the hard to watch part). but i am a sick little one indeed, so my reaction was more like my response above.

  4. Simply an amazing film. I couldn’t stop watching, and had to figure out what exactly was going on. I’m glad you recommended it to me.

  5. jesse, i’ve been on a mission for 5 years to make everybody watch OLDBOY. now that the rest of the world seems to finally be caught up with that one (obviously not because of me, but i like to think i played a tiny tiny part in the big scheme of things), my new mission is to spread Martyrs as wide as i can!!

    i’m SO glad you liked it. makes this little one smile, look


    /epic headbang sent over to you!

  6. xxcupcakexo Says:

    By far the most intensely horrific, yet profound movie i’ve ever seen. As soon as I saw it I immediately knew this was something you’d watch. I wouldn’t say i loved it, because that term just doesn’t seem appropriate for this movie. I wouldn’t say enjoyed either. Whether you’re a torture porn fan or not, this movie will blow your mind.

  7. that’s exactly why i love this movie so much. it’s true, i enjoy super gorey and violent flicks, but there’s a reason why only very few make it to my top list, and this one made it because of it’s intensity, and tragedy, and the dramatic sympathy that follows.

    i chose to talk mainly about korean movies on my website, because almost all of them meet those requirements.. they are.. INTENSE. and this one is too. so real. like a punch in the stomach.

  8. you watched this one? “À l’intérieur”:

  9. oh yeah, and “MARTYRS” I gonna watch tonight!

  10. yes i did! i’m probably going to review it here, even tho i’m still not sure i want to move away from korea too much on this site

  11. hagiblog Says:

    You should have a Worldwide Wednesday or something and then you could have one day every week or once a month or something where you can showcase a film that you think is really amazing that may not be from Korea.

    And Inside was nuts. The ending to that was sooooo creepy.

  12. wow that’s actually a really good idea! thanks so much! i’m definitely gonna do that!

  13. I watched Martyrs last night, is REALLY fucking cool! Amazing editing! I’m amazed by the french.

    I think is cool to talk about other films outside korea too

  14. hagiblog Says:

    So if that’s a good idea does that mean I can start sending requests for you to review really bad horror flicks? HAHAHA!

  15. kabuki29 Says:

    I never heard of this film before. I was a lil unsure if i should give it a try, but then, most of the movies presented here are film i quite like, so i though „why not?“.
    It wasnt so easy to find a copy. Martyr is not being sold in Germany, you can only rent it. But i was lucky, i found a copy in my hometown. The movies is not rated 18+, the lable on the cover simply informs you that it is not a criminal offence to watch it (Battle Royle has the same lable).

    First thing i noticed was that the film is really beautiful. The camera, make-up, light, i found it all perfect. Seldom was a picture that good looking.
    The story captured me from the begining. I couldn’t take my eyes from the screen, i had to know what would happen next, even if it was quite sickening to watch some parts of it.

    A few hours after i watched it the first time, i watched it again. I simply had to, make sure i saw everything right.
    I think it’s one of the greatest Horror Movies ever made. As european films goes, this one tops Dario Argento. I have to let it sink a lil more, but this one has the potential to be even better then the Vengeance triology.

    I can only say „Thank you Christina. This is the second movie i simply watched because you said somewhere that it’s a good movie (Pan’s Labyrinth being the first). Thank you very much. This is a great film, scary and not easy to watch, but great.“

  16. It’s good stuff… I really liked how the film seemed to completely change direction several times. It always kept you guessing. :)

  17. @kabuki29 i am so glad to read you liked it. and yeah, martyrs bought himself a special place in my heart as well :)

    @Tim it did! now, not to sound lame, but i especially liked the fact of how painfully REAL this movie is. i say lame because i hate using the word “real” ahah

  18. thanks everybody for commenting on this one.. i really appreciate it!

  19. This movie is fucking awesome. I’ve seen it a month ago and it’s incredible. Maybe you’ve already seen “A l’interieur”, another good gore french film. If you haven’t, you must.

  20. I spoke with pascal laugier in person and he is incredible as the director. He explained big things to me on this movie. I saw this movie in Sitges08 and I like very much, it is a masterpiece undoubtedly.

    I recommend to see enormously “A l’interieur”, another French movie, it is a masterpiece

  21. everybody is commenting saying you should watch a l’interieur! it’s pretty funny actually, i watched both movies the same day. i just didn’t review the other one (yet) because it’s not at the same level on Martyrs, and i try to keep the occidental reviewing thing very limited in here. i want to focus on Korea, of course. but maybe one day i’ll post about a l’interieur since so many of you are mentioning it :)

  22. […] Technically a 2008 movie, but the majority of us really discovered this movie in 2009, when its unrated version was released on dvd at the beginning of the year. Plus it’s MY list and i decide what to put in it (there). I like this movie so much it made me talk about it nonstop for months. It’s the journey of Anna Assoui down the terrifying spiral of abuse and torture. She suffers inexplicable pain. She’s a martyr, a fighter, a survivor, and pretty much my hero. Many labeled Martyrs as a “monster”, but here at zombie cupcakes, Monsters are good, and we love them plenty. Perfect 10. Full Review: here […]

  23. Joshua Johnson Says:

    I actually own this one. I buy a lot of films and never watch them. Terrible, I know. I’ll dig through my DVD trunk and find it just for you! Oldboy…I don’t have. I will have to get that one.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: