Although there is indeed a high amount of tension, there needs to be a part of every film that calms the audience and gives them some form of control. That’s where Anna comes in. Anna makes the audience feel as though there is some security which will allows the film to flow. However, the mental cruelty doesn’t stop there as the audience bears witness to a fully grown Lucie – with the assistance of Anna as accessory – commit mass murder as she ends the lives of an entire family that she claims were responsible for her past traumatic experience. Already there are questions as to the nature of this friendship - Is Lucie really as stable as we originally thought? What is this creature that continues to attack her? Does Anna really believe what Lucie claims?
The relationship between Lucie and Anna is a complex one. From the beginning of the film, the audience is given a sense of a mother-and-daughter relationship as Anna cares for Lucie and comforts her through her trauma and constant fear. However, by the time these two young girls have grown, the relationship becomes strained and put into question. The audience’s sense of moral values is put to the test when Anna discovers one of the family members is still alive. The conflict between her loyalty to Lucie and her morals is powerful and the audience cannot help but support her decision to try and help the victim even though her efforts prove to be fruitless.
The idea of Lucie being the lead role is very short-lived as the film progresses. While there is no doubt as to the sympathy of her character due to her sudden exit, there is a slight confusion as to who should be the focus. Anna becomes the key role, making the beginning of the film completely misleading. The impression of what the narrative was going to focus on, takes a different route which makes the film fresh and original without being placed into a story which those who heart horror have seen many times before.
Without trying to reveal too many spoilers, although her character is not necessarily the lead, Lucie teaches an important lesson on how far a person will go to escape their demons; to kill others as well as themselves. Lucie displays the very limits of the fragile human mind and the potential damage it can cause. Sadly, this leaves Anna at the mercy of those responsible for the damage inflicted on Lucie.
The torture scenes are gruesome and incredibly difficult to watch as Anna is beaten and degraded with each passing scene; the torture becomes more and more vicious and stomach-churning. The most hard-core horror fan will require a stomach made of iron, and even those who are huge fans of body horror, will find this a real challenge to watch. What makes this film slightly infuriating is the general outcome. Anna is tortured by the idea that if a young female knows every form of suffering she will go into a state of enlightenment and see what lies in the next life or indeed if there is one at all. Despite her suffering and every ounce of extreme torture they put her through, an outcome is never revealed.
Martyrs proves to be a challenging film that will provoke and bring to light many key issues concerning criminals and victims, as well as the long-lasting effects of crime and how far a person who serves an organised religion is willing to go. Although the ending proves to be disappointing there is no doubt about the quality of the ride leading up to it. Martyrs is a film that looks into the very nature of sadism and brings to question what really lies on the other side.
Why We Heart: Martyrs
By Charlotte Castle - 26th March 2014
Martyrs is a French film made in 2008 dedicated to the idea of madness within organised religion - a gruesome salute to the horror world. Some people have seen this film as a rite of passage for true hard-core horror fans and it is no surprise when one watches the extent of torture and cruelty inflicted on the helpless victims involved.
The film opens with a scene that can only be described as horrific. A child - Lucie - badly beaten and bruised, is found running up a deserted street. Immediately, the film provokes controversy as it explores the extent of child abuse and the psychological effects caused. To add more disturbing questions to the mystery, we are stalked by the constant presence of a shadow creature who seems intent on harming Lucie, making her live every day in fear.