Wednesday 11 March 2009


Directed by Pascal Laugier. With Morjana Alaoui, Mylène Jampanoï, Catherine Bégin. This is a hard film to watch. Forget the insipid horror remakes which Hollywood is currently churning out. The French are presently pushing the boat way out in regards to horror. It's taken me a few days just to digest the experience this film presents. There are equally brutal films around, but Martyrs, moves beyond obvious shock and nastiness, towards something more disturbing. The first half is basically a home invasion movie, involving a nice middle class family and a shotgun, as an abused girl embarks on an act of deranged revenge. Not much of this first section is really what it seems. Just when you think the story is petering out, and there's no obvious way the narrative can go, the film shifts direction, moving into a strange and in the end, mystical direction. The finale is quite logical, grotesque, and even touchingly beautiful. Martyrs' lasting power is not in its scenes of savage violence, because there are many recent films that do that, but in that the film also leaves you with an unsettling sense of wonder.

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