Martyrs movie full length review - Hollow and bland.
A woman and her childhood friend seek out revenge on those who
victimized and abused them.
Directly by the Goetz brothers, Kevin and Michael (Scenic Route), and
written by Mark L.
Smith (The Revenant), Martyrs feels like a film
making a statement that it doesn't quite understand. Exposition
delivered from the members of the mysterious organization is clunky,
and is said with such gravitas that it would be easy to mistake it for
trying to make a point. However, when you step back and look at it, it
quickly becomes clear that the movie is saying nothing at all. The
original film presented as a slightly more intellectual exercise than
it really was, however the first effort in 2008 still managed to back
up it's "big ideas" with an intensely brutal film.
I hesitate to make too many comparisons to the original movie, as I
don't find that helps to have much of a conversation about a remake,
but this version has forced me to do so. Despite following,
essentially, the same story line as the original, there is something
strangely safe about this movie. The brutality and edge has been sanded
off of the story, and you're left with something that feels amateurish
and a bit like the first feature of a film school graduate. Had this
been the directorial debut of the Goetz, this may have made more sense,
but they've made films before, and this missed the mark.
It seems that in it's Americanized form, Martyrs has become a generic
movie that brims to the top with mediocre dialogue, and just-OK
performances. The two actors are flat, though I have a feeling they
will be given credit for their ability to scream and cry, though it's
in subtle parts of a performance that an actors ability really shines
and that doesn't seem to be present here.
There's a lot of exposition and back story building both between our
two main characters becoming friends in an orphanage, as well as the
conversation about what Martyrs are. The film's ideas and themes are
spoon-fed to the audience rather than allowing for subtlety. The
unfortunate thing is, that had this not been a remake and stood alone
as a new and unique story, you could make the case for it actually not
being a bad movie. That said, it's impossible not to draw comparisons
and see the ways in which the original film did the same basic story in
a substantially better way. You are taken through the protagonist's
suffering and forced to live it with her in the original, in this, we
have are shown a few grim scenes and then expected to understand the
suffering. It's all very bland this time.
Martyrs does succeed in one area, and that is the cinematography. The
overall look of the movie, and the way many shots are composed is quite
appealing, if not a bit boring near the end. It feels like more time
was spent in the beginning of the film, and less and less attention was
paid as the ending approached. Perhaps it was shot chronologically and
the money just ran out by the end. The final scene, for example,
appears to have been thrown together for $80, while the first half of
the movie really is well assembled.
Most disappointing is the ending of this movie. The original film was
bleak, and quite upsetting to watch. The protagonist was flayed alive,
and there is a brutal and yet beautiful scene of a skinless Anna having
become a "martyr". This time around, however, the flaying has been
omitted completely and instead, Lucie has her back sliced up and she is
put up on a cross with straps.
It removes the punch and the impact of the ending, in favour of a
clichéd ending in which Anna escapes death and fights her way back to
rescue her friend. They share a loving moment together and the movie
fades into a flash back. Creating an ending as bland as the rest of the
This is a case of "I'm not mad, I'm just disappointed". It's not
completely incompetent, but it's really just another generic horror
movie amidst a sea of generic horror movies. If you haven't seen the
original yet, I'd recommend giving it a watch, and if you have, just
watch it again and let's all forget about this one. What a shame.