Martyrs

Movies, Horror
4 out of 5 stars
Martyrs

In time, when gentler folk look back on the machine-like, violative horror of the waning moment (the Saw franchise, etc.), their thoughts will not be on where our dark ideas came from, but how we ever survived them. A majority of these films are American, but leave it to the French to improve on a formula: Martyrs, which repulsed audiences into near-theological debate at the 2008 Cannes and Toronto film festivals, now arrives straight to DVD. Has the savvy Weinstein Company grown ashamed of torture porn?

The movie deserves a theatrical release, if only to offer an I-told-you-so to jaded audiences. In it, young women are captured and mutilated. But with provocative intellectual chutzpah, writer-director Pascal Laugier reveals his well-supplied torture-masters to be—I have to be careful here—in search of something higher. The final expressions of the beatified and doomed haunt them. Much like serious fans of horror, these ghouls peer deeply into the eyes of victims, in pursuit of metaphysical wisdom. Do they find it? Does one ever learn from the pain of others? This is the philosophical crux of Martyrs, now a film to be discovered by cultists. Laugier, meanwhile, has been tapped for a remake of Hellraiser. Some things never change.—Joshua Rothkopf

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Cast and crew

Director: Kevin Goetz, Michael Goetz
Screenwriter: Mark L. Smith
Cast: Troian Bellisario
Bailey Noble
Kate Burton