Martyrs tells the story of Lucie (Troian Bellisario), a young girl who was beaten and tortured by a sadistic family years prior. Lucie sets out to track down the family years later and is eventually joined by her friend Anna (Bailey Noble). Lucie exacts brutal revenge but things quickly take a turn for the bizarre when the girls encounter a group of fanatics looking for answers through highly unconventional methods. Check out our exclusive interview with Bailey Noble on the remake right here.
I am a big fan of Pascal Laugier’s Martyrs but it has been several years since I last watched it and as such, it was easier for me to take the Goetz Brothers’ reimagining as its own entity. Strictly based on comparison to the original film, Pascal Laugier’s 2008 original wins hands down. There’s not even a question about that. However, evaluated purely on its own merits, the reboot offers a new take on the source material that is worthy of consideration.
One of the smartest things about the film is that it doesn’t attempt to top the original in terms of violence or the extremes to which it goes. Had the Goetz Brothers tried to top the visceral nature of the original, it likely would have backfired. It would have resulted in an unwatchable and also quite pointless venture. The original pushed all sorts of boundaries but a remake simply must differentiate itself to justify its existence and the Goetz Brother’s remake does that.
At times, the film does a very effective job of making the viewer question who the victim really is. It becomes very black and white by the end but for the first act, the audience almost sympathizes with Lucie’s captors. And considering the heinous manner in which they treated her, that is really saying something.
I also appreciated the way that the Goetz Brothers build tension and frighten the audience without any real reliance on jump scares or trickery. The tension is palpable and that is achieved entirely by honest means.
The gore, while not over the top, is still abundant and it is nearly all (if not entirely) accomplished practically. The level of violence is nowhere close to that which we see in the original film but the film is not entirely toothless, either.
My biggest complaint about the reimagining is that the performances are not nearly as compelling as I would have liked. I eventually got behind the characters and came to identify with their plight as the film progressed but it was really difficult for me to shake the sensation that they were acting. And while they are, of course, acting, the strongest performances quickly make us forget that. The film was shot over the course of just two weeks and that is sometimes evident in the quality of the performances. If the Goetz Brothers had been afforded more time in which to complete the film, I am fairly certain they would have been able to get more compelling performances from both of their leads.
Overall, the film is worth checking out. If you haven’t seen the original, I would suggest watching the remake first. You are more apt to appreciate it without having seen its (admittedly) superior predecessor. If you have seen the original, try to go into the remake with an open mind and you might just enjoy what you see.
In terms of special features, there isn’t much to offer. The film’s sole special feature is a featurette. Martyrs is now available on DVD and Blu-ray.
WICKED RATING: [usr 5]
Director(s): Kevin Goetz, Michael Goetz
Writer(s): Mark L. Smith
Stars: Troian Bellisario, Bailey Noble
Release: February 2, 2016 DVD and Blu-ray
Studio/ Production Co: Anchor Bay, Blumhouse Tilt
Length: 81 Minutes