Canal Horizons/Canal+/CinéCinéma/Crédit d’Impôt Cinéma et Télévision/Crédit d’Impôt pour la Production Cinématographique ou Magnétoscopique Canadienne/Eskwad/TCB Film/Wild Bunch, France/Canada, 2008
Director: Pascal Laugier
Writer: Pascal Laugier
Cast: Morjana Alaoui, Mylène Jampanoï, Catherine Bégin, Robert Toupin, Patricia Tulasne, Juliette Gosselin, Xavier Dolan, Louise Boisvert, Jean-Marie Moncelet, Jessie Pham, Erika Scott, Isabelle Chasse, Emilie Miskdjian, Tony Robinow, Anie Pascale, Mike Chute, Gaëlle Cohen, Louis Thevenon, Jean-François Boudreau, Michel Cormier, Jean-Bernard Côté, Patrick Dorval, Mathieu Samaille, Daniel Deburghgraeve, Philippe Laugler, Hervé Desbois, Mario Mancini, Olivier Villeneuve

Ten years old Lucie manages to escape from being held captive in an abandoned slaughterhouse in an industrial area. She has been beaten and tortured and chained to a metal chair. The people responsible is never found, and Lucie won’t talk about what’s been done to her. She is brought to a home for abused children where she meet Anna who becomes her best friend. There is this horrible mutilated creature that sometimes comes for Lucie. Sometimes it even hurts her physically but Anna has a hard time deciding whether this creature is real or just something out of Lucies imagination.

Cut to fifteen years later, what seems like a normal family of four sits down for breakfast. The mother has found a dead rat and is playing around with it at the table. To me this felt a bit weird and maybee it was an indication that maybe this family isn’t as normal as they let on.

There is a knock on the door and Lucie enters killing father, mother, son and daughter with a shootgun in cold blood. She then calls Anna telling her that she found the people responsible for torturing her as a child and that the creature from her childhood is in the house and has attacked her.

Anna rushes over to help her dispose of the bodies, but isn’t sure if Lucie has snapped and just killed an innocent family or if they really are the monsters Lucie claims. Eventually Anna learns the truth about Lucie’s creature as it once again attacks Lucie cutting her with a razor.

By chance Anna stumbles upon a secret door in the back of a cupboard wich leads to a basement compound that looks something like a hospital. Beneath this basement theres a second one where she finds signs of somebode being kept and probably tortured. She finds a woman (looking a bit like Lucie’s creature) in terrible shape and brings her up to the house.

Suddenly there are armed people all over the place, killing the woman, interrogating Anna and bringing her back down into the compound …

Martyrs is a disturbing film, and there is a lot of blood and explicit violence. Some people has described it as torture porn, but I don’t agree with that. True, there is a fair deal of torture and gore, but what makes this film stand out is the characters and their stories. The plot at first seem wild and random but as the story unfolds there is a red line. To be honest I didn’t know what to expect from this film prior to watching it. The name Martyrs made me expect some religous theme, and when I read about Lucie being kidnapped and abused I figured maybe it was some religious fanatic serialkiller/tormentor or maybe even some cult. Instead I got Lucie’s creature wich hinted creature feature or a psycho type story depending on whether the creature was real or not. Then comes the homeinvasion and brutal slaughter of the seemingly inocent family. This turns the story in a new direction and finally as Anna finds the secret underground compound it turns out to be something at least I didn’t expect.

My verdict: 9 out of 10.

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