Martyrs (2008 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Pascal Laugier|
|Produced by||Richard Grandpierre|
|Written by||Pascal Laugier|
|Music by||Seppuku Paradigm|
|Edited by||Sébastien Prangère|
|Distributed by||Wild Bunch|
|Box office||$1.1 million|
Martyrs is a 2008 French psychological horror drama film written and directed by Pascal Laugier. It premiered at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival at the Marché du Film, and released theatrically in France on 3 September 2008. The film's American distribution rights were purchased by the Weinstein Company, they also released the film on DVD in April 2009.
In 1971, a young girl, Lucie Jurin, escapes from a disused abattoir where she has been imprisoned and physically abused for more than a year. The perpetrators and their motivations remain a mystery. Lucie is placed in an orphanage, where she is befriended by a young girl named Anna Assaoui, who quickly discovers that Lucie believes that she is constantly being terrorized by a ghoulish creature - a disfigured, emaciated woman. Even so, Anna comforts Lucie every time she has a nightmare.
Fifteen years later, Lucie bursts into the home of an apparently normal family, the Belfonds - Gabrielle, her husband, and their children Antoine and Marie - and kills them all with a shotgun. Elsewhere, Anna waits for Lucie. Although Anna knows that Lucie believes the Belfonds are the people responsible for her childhood abuse, she is horrified when Lucie tells her that she has killed them. Upon arriving at the house, Anna discovers that Gabrielle is still alive and tries to help her escape, but Lucie bludgeons Gabrielle to death. Lucie is again attacked by the scarred creature, but Anna only sees Lucie hurting herself; the 'creature' is nothing more than a psychological manifestation of Lucie's guilt for leaving behind another girl who was also tortured with her as a child. Lucie, realizing that her insanity will never leave her, commits suicide.
The next day, Anna, still at the family's house, telephones her mother, from whom she has been estranged; their conversation implies that Anna suffered abuse from her parents as a child. Suddenly, Anna hears some noises and discovers a secret underground chamber in the living room. Imprisoned within is a horribly tortured young woman named Sarah, who proves that Lucie was right about the family. Anna helps Sarah escape, but a group of strangers arrive and gun Sarah down. Captured, Anna meets their leader, an elderly lady referred to as Mademoiselle. Mademoiselle explains that she belongs to a secret philosophical society seeking to discover the secrets of the afterlife through the creation of "martyrs". Their experiments inflict systematic acts of torture upon young women in the belief that their suffering will result in a transcendental insight into the world beyond this one. Mademoiselle also believes the world is divided into victims (people who can't hold tortures and fall into madness, like Lucie and Sarah) and martyrs (people who "accept" tortures and transcend).
Anna becomes the group's latest subject. After a period of being beaten and degraded, Anna hallucinates a conversation with Lucie, and is later told she has progressed further than any other test subject, and has reached the "final stage." She is flayed alive and survives the procedure, entering a state that is "euphoric" and likened to achieving transcendence. Mademoiselle arrives eagerly and Anna whispers into her ear.
Members of the society gather at the house to learn of the insights Anna shared with Mademoiselle. As he waits, Mademoiselle's assistant asks her if what Anna said was clear. Mademoiselle says yes, then asks him if he could imagine what comes after death. When he says no, she tells him to "keep doubting" before producing a handgun and committing suicide.
The film ends with a shot of Anna on the table, in a catatonic state.
- Mylène Jampanoï as Lucie Jurin
- Jessie Pham as Young Lucie
- Morjana Alaoui as Anna Assaoui
- Erika Scott as Young Anna
- Catherine Bégin as Mademoiselle
- Isabelle Chasse as The Creature
- Robert Toupin as The father (Mr. Belfond)
- Patricia Tulasne as The mother (Gabrielle Belfond)
- Juliette Gosselin as Marie Belfond
- Xavier Dolan-Tadros as Antoine Belfond
- Louise Boisvert as Anna's Mother (voice)
- Jean-Marie Moncelet as Étienne
- Emilie Miskdjian as Sarah
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (January 2011)
Pascal Laugier said that "the film was rejected by all the big French studios, by a lot of actresses, too. […] The film was really supported by Canal+, the only television channel in France that still finances some unusual projects". He also comments that the main difficulty other than the technical issues such as special effects was to keep the actresses crying all the time, and that was too demanding.
The film was categorized as a new example of new era French horror films akin to Inside with regard to the level of violence it depicts. The film ranking website Rotten Tomatoes reported that 53% of critics had given the film positive reviews, based upon a sample of 29. Todd Brown at Twitch called it "without a doubt the single most divisive film to screen in the Cannes Marché Du Film this year", while Ryan Rotten at shocktillyoudrop.com claims that the film "is the new yard stick against which all forms of extreme genre films should be measured against". In the early 2010s, Time Out conducted a poll with several authors, directors, actors and critics who have worked within the horror genre to vote for their top horror films. Martyrs placed at number 31 on their top 100 list.
The French Commission de Classification des Oeuvres Cinématographiques rated the film 18+ (unsuitable for children under 18 or forbidden in cinemas for under 18) which the producers of the film appealed. As a last resort, the French Society of Film Directors (SRF) asked the French ministry of culture to examine the decision, remarking that "this is the first time a French genre film has been threatened with such a rating". The Union of Film Journalists has adopted the same position as the SRF, claiming censorship. The Minister of Culture Christine Albanel eventually asked the Commission of Classification to change its rating, which was done in July 2008. Martyrs was finally rated 16+.
In 2008 original director Pascal Laugier confirmed in an interview that he was in the middle of negotiating the rights for Martyrs to be remade in America. It was to be directed by Daniel Stamm, director of The Last Exorcism, and written by Mark L. Smith, writer of Vacancy as well as from the producers of Twilight. The producer of the film said he would like Twilight actress Kristen Stewart for the film, though her presence in the film was later denied by Stamm. Stamm said "[The original film] is very nihilistic. The American approach [that I'm looking at] would go through all that darkness but then give a glimmer of hope. You don't have to shoot yourself when it's over."
In a 2014 interview, Stamm revealed he had left the project after the budget had been reduced, stating, "I think they're now back to making the movie for like $1 million, really low budget, which I think you could almost do, it's just there's this philosophy in Hollywood that you can never go back budget-wise. As a filmmaker you are judged by that. And then there's also this concept I was unaware of called plateauing, where if you're a filmmaker who makes two movies in the same budget bracket, that becomes your thing. You are the guy for the $3 million movie, and then that's all you do. And so my agents wouldn't let me do the $1 million movie, because then that's it for you, you'll supposedly never get that bigger budget".
In February 2015 the new production companies Blumhouse Productions and The Safran Company announced that the movie was already filmed and that the Goetz Brothers, Michael and Kevin, had directed. In the leads stars Bailey Noble, Troian Bellisario, Kate Burton and Blake Robbins. It was panned by critics, and currently has a 7% rating on Rotten Tomatoes  and a 19/100 on Metacritic, indicating "overwhelming dislike".
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- Exclusive: 'Twilight' Producer Wants Kristen Stewart for 'Martyrs' Remake
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- More Horror News: 'Martyrs' to Get American Makeover
- Hall, Peter (3 April 2014). "What Happened to the Remake of Martyrs? Director Daniel Stamm Tells Us What Could Have Been". movies.com. Movies. Retrieved 21 April 2014.
- Miska, Brad (3 April 2014). "A remake of Pascal Laugier's astoundingly brutal Martyrs is still in the works, and now has Blumhouse and The Safran Company attached to produce. It also reveals new directors, placing the Goetz Brothers (of 2013's Scenic Route) at the helm". bloody-disgusting.com. Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved 21 April 2014.
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