Martyrs (2008) Pascal Laguier | Movement Nu 37
“I swear that to disgust audiences has never been my motivation. When critics describe the film as butchery, a display of guts and gore, it saddens me very much. I see my film as a rather reserved work, in fact. And I would like it to touch the viewers, to plunge them in a state of profound melancholy, just like mine when I was filming – because I think that Martyrs is really a melodrama. Hard, violent, very disturbing, but a melodrama all the same. I hope it will be a powerful experience for those who will see it because I put everything I had into it.” – Pascal Laguier
The film begins with a girl (Lucie) escaping some unidentified prison. Her body is covered in cuts and wounds. She is then placed in an orphanage where she builds a relationship with another girl, Anna. Of course, Lucie is extremely traumatized by the events prior to the orphanage and is terrorized by a violent ghost who, like Lucie before, is horribly disfigured, emaciated and covered in lesions.
Fifteen years later, Lucie bursts into a seemingly random suburban home with a shotgun and kills the entire family within the house. She calls her good friend Anna and explains that she has killed the people responsible for her abuse all of those years ago. She asks for assistance in burying the bodies of the seemingly normal, now a bit bloodied, family members.
Upon arriving, Anna is obviously mortified by the murders and discovers that the mother of the household is still alive. Anna tries to help her escape but Lucie discovers them and beats the mother to death. Yet again, Lucie’s horrible ghost returns to claw at her scarred body. It turns out that this apparition is only a psychological manifestation of her guilt for leaving another girl stuck within the “abuse prison” when she escaped all of those years ago. Lucie realizes that she will never be able to escape her constant horror and slits her throat…
This is really where the story begins, this is where Martyrs takes a heavy u-turn down the path of psychological, gruesome horror involving a cult that tortures for quasi-metaphysical reasons…
Anna discovers that underneath the normal looking home is a prison, a torture chamber, and she becomes another victim. According to the leader of the cult, the torturing is supposed to shed light on what happens after death. Through pain, through surpassing pain, transcendence is supposed to be found. A sort of sick, twisted take on Buddhism. It’s a fascinating film that I highly enjoyed, but I must warn you, it isn’t for the light hearted or vomit compulsive movie victims. If you can handle it, then do, if you can’t handle, say, something like Hostel, then I suggest you stay away from this film…. kind of.
“I didn’t enjoy making this film very much. Everything, from writing the script to editing, was, for different reasons, very difficult. What gave me the strength to tell this story, to spend two years of my life in such a dark world, was the love story between Anna and Lucie. It was what connected me viscerally to the film. It’s a love that is not shared. Anna loves Lucie unconditionally and this love will kill her. That’s something very real that we all experience: to fall in love with the wrong person, the one who, without consciously wanting to, will destroy you. Just because they are what they are. Anna loves in an absolute manner, and in that sense, she is a sort of modern saint. She gives all of herself and she will pay for it very dearly. The world and its trivial reality are fatal to people like her…” – Pascal Laguier