CinemaEpique’s review published on Letterboxd :
It may not be a regular occurrence, but when the French make a horror film you better run for cover, cause you know it’s gonna be brutal.
Directed by Pascal Laugier, 'Martyrs' took the world of horror by storm, when it was released to unsuspecting audiences in 2008. This became one of the first in a new line of extreme European cinema that reached an apex years later with 'Human Centipede' and 'A Serbian Movie'.
Unlike the American films in the 'Torture Porn' genre like the 'Saw' series, 'Martyrs' stands as an incredibly well made movie, making the onscreen carnage even more distressing. In fact I would say the level of misogyny and face smashing violence might even be too intense for the casual horror fan. No stranger myself to outlandish cinema, I was still taken aback by the relentless and downright harrowing brutality on screen.
The movie begins with a young girl (Lucie), escaping from unseen assailants, who had been keeping her prisoner, as they savagely tortured her.Years later, a grown up Lucie (Mylène Jampanoï) invades the home of a family, whom she believes were behind her incarceration as a child. From the moment she enters their home, the movie kicks into a hyper-violent state, like an overdose of adrenalin into the brain, culminating in one of the most distressing scenes I have ever seen. To give anymore of 'Martyrs' secrets away, is to do a deserve to both the movie and its director.
It’s the fact that the performances are so tremendously good and the direction so accomplished, that you unwittingly get immersed in this mire of repugnant cinema. With the real test coming later, as you try to wash the images from your affected mind.
Only recently director Laugier was dismissed from the 'Hellraiser' remake, that macabre concept of his twisted style, mixed with the sadism of Barker is a great loss. For now though we can still revel in this visceral masterpiece of endurance cinema, that is only for the brave.