DVD Review – Martyrs (2015)

Martyrs Gun

Disturbed Lucie (Troian Bellisario) finds herself ensconced in an orphanage after breaking free from tented captivity in a mysterious warehouse. The traumatised ten-year-old suffers severe sleep terrors and seeks solace in the friendship of fellow foundling Anna (Bailey Noble).

Over the stretch of a decade Lucie learns to harnesses the power of her nightmares and converts them into high grade revenge fuel. Determined to execute retribution upon the architects of her raw misery both she and Anna are dragged towards the devastating epicenter of a horrifying vortex of evil.

Obviously the flogged elephant in the blood spattered room here is the fact that Martyrs(2015) is a “re-imagining”. What swells the previously mentioned Pachyderm to mammoth proportions is the fact that the original is not only of the rarest French New Wave vintage but a movie that many believe is a legitimate contender for the greatest fright flick ever made.

Almost as much ink has been spilled as blood in the original debating the inherent worth of this project and indeed the creatively baron wetlands in which these remakes/re-imaginings/re-boots ripen as a whole. This has lead to reviews of the version in question becoming little more than precious industry rants or worse still over-stuffed eulogies respectfully directed towards  the primary source.

This does not help the reader decide if this particular version of the film is worth their time and after all that is the sole source of a film reviewers virtue.

Directors Kevin and Michael Goetz have created an essentially independent take on the themes and motifs laid down by Laugier and by applying their own perspectives of time-lines, pacing and structure have finished up with a pretty solid horror outing.

Granted it will not spawn endless reaction videos nor will it promote an epidemic of late night duvet security measures – but it is a gratifying experience that fights against the lure of the insipid by way of confidently adept film-making.

The visuals are steely and chrome-crisp from SeanO’Dea (Mischief Night) with compact editing by the always reliable Jake York (Home) and flamboyant effects work courtesy of Myke Michaels (No One Lives) and Ren Rohling (Crazy Bitches).

Theological controversy formed the sinews that mechanised the originals cinematic muscles and these concepts spring from their traps much earlier in this version. This provides a more illuminated odeum in which to dissect the true horror of their implications and extinguishes any ambiguity that may have weakened a less focused attack upon religious self-indulgence.

This screenplay provided an improbable spring-board to the upper Oscar echelons of The Revenant for scribe Mark L. Smith (Vacancy) and the same icily economic approach to story telling is prevalent throughout. This lends Martyrs(2015) the graceful air of distanced vanity it desperately needed.

The acting is committed and rational with a tenable chemistry between the two female leads of Lucie and Anna providing a viable canvas for this depiction of both the fragility and compassionate resilience of femininity.

Martyrs(2015) has plenty to recommend it within its own context but primarily it articulates a credible option for those seeking to engage with heavy gauge philosophical concepts without having their senses gang-banged to death in a pitch black art-house by the savage offspring of caustic depression.

Bradley Hadcroft
★★★ 1/2

Drama, Horror, Thriller |  Altitude Film Entertainment | DVD/VOD Release Date: 4th April 2016 (U.K.) | 18 | Dir: Kevin and Michael Goetz  |  Troian Bellisario, Bailey Noble, Kate Burton | Buy DVD: Here 

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