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DVD Review

DVD cover



Starring: Morjana Alaoui and Mylène Jampanoï
Optimum Home Entertainment
RRP: £17.99
Certificate: 18
Available 24 May 2009

Lucie, a young girl who disappeared months before, turns up suddenly. She has been held captive and tortured. In a children's hospital she befriends Anna, and the two become inseparable. Fifteen years later they trace the place where Lucie had been held. Lucie shoots dead an entire family, and Anna begins to doubt her friend's motives. But when a woman and her henchmen arrive at the house she realises she will be the next victim...


Martyrs is an unusual one to quantify. Apparently, it has been making quite an impact on the film festival circuit, and has already received the green light for a sequel. However, reviews have been mixed so part of that splash is probably through notoriety.

Martyrs is one of those movies in which the violence is so extreme and prolonged that much of its infamy will be garnered through mass audience walk-outs - or at least apocryphal reports of them. There’s no doubting that it owes much to Hostel, Saw and even FearDotCom, which have in recent years been dubbed “torture porn.” In fact, very little happens except for stabbings, Stanley blade slashings, and just general wholesale slaughter and torture.

In my opinion, a cinematic experience (or a DVD viewing at home) should be enjoyable. So the question beckons: is this entertainment? Not really, no; unless you’re masochistic. However, this doesn’t mean it’s a derisory film; on the contrary, it’s very well directed.

Ironically, Martyrs places a foot minutely over the line into fantasy violence. In other words, although possible, the events are not likely to be a common occurrence on a day to day basis. It’s certainly more comfortable to watch something like this (which is violent but with much of it inferred) than The Last House on the Left in which a young woman is terrorised and sexually assaulted. Having said that, in this case the plot is about the captivity and torture, rather than the objective - which is for a young woman to reach martyrdom whereby she can witness life after death and be in a position to talk about it. Even then we are cheated out of knowing what she saw.

Director Pascal Laugier has remade Clive Barker's Hellraiser. I can see how he was a likely candidate, and probably had loads of fun with the Cenobites.

Extras include a 'Making of...' featurette, an Interview with the writer/director, and an interview with the special effects make-up artist.


Ty Power

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