Is Martyrs the most shocking film ever made?

Torture porn? Art? Pascal Laugier’s French shocker is knee-deep in controversy and blood

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What’s it all about?
Scabbed, bruised, bloodied, a young girl runs half-naked down a street. She has escaped. From where? From whom? Jump forward several years and the girl, now a twitchy, fractured, thoroughly fucked-up waif-woman, arrives at the house of a middle-class family. She’s convinced that these unassuming, strikingly ordinary parents who even now tend to their children at the breakfast table are the monsters who once held her captive, subjecting her to unspeakable horrors. And she’s hell-bent on revenge…

Why all the fuss?

OK, tough one to go into without ruining the ride (Martyrs is a nosedive down a rabbit-hole to hell, and the more you know, the less the impact). Let’s just say Laugier’s movie is pretty much incessantly violent, emotionally and physically. Pain follows pain follows pain, each jolt and jab coldly applied, with technical precision. It’s the nature of the cruelty being meted out - systematic, mechanical, relentless – that makes it so unbearable to watch.
Audience reaction
According to Laugier, there is no telling who will love the movie and who will hate it: many people who confess to despising horror flicks adore the film; many splatter fanatics hate it. At the FrightFest Film Festival in August, where it played to an audience of slobbering gorehounds, it split opinion like a hatchet through soft pink flesh, and at least two viewers stumbled into Leicester Square to toss their cookies. Others floated out cooing about a “transcendental experience”. Again, we can’t say how they’d reached such an opinion without giving too much away…

Is it really the most violent film ever made?
Nah. Other movies have more of the red stuff -  Inside, Wrong Turn 2, Frontière(s), to name three from the last couple of years alone - and this doesn’t quite match up to the gruelling one-two body blow of Irréversible’s fire extinguisher/rape scenes. But it’s up there, sure to be mentioned in the same breath as, say, Cannibal Holocaust, Ichi The Killer, Audition, etc. Trust us, you’ll need to take a big breath before you go in…

Is it any good?
Brilliant. But we can’t properly explain why without… Well, you get the idea. It's not out in the UK until March 2009, which is admittedly a long time to avoid spoilers, but trust us, it'll be worth the wait. In the meantime, check out our gallery to the right.


    • schlockmeister

      Nov 5th 2008, 10:09

      How about pointless pretentious and tedious? This is nothing put sensationalistic waffle. I could say why, me.

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