12 September 2008 | rogergeorge
Brave, brilliant, brutal...
Having missed the opportunity to catch this at the Midnight Madness showing in TIFF08, I decided to go against all stated horror movie rules and watched this today around midday at a complex in downtown Toronto.. It's difficult to know what to say about this movie really; like a birth or a death, you really have to experience it yourself and draw your own conclusions. What I will say is that as a committed horror freak, rare is the occasion when I tense up and watch a film contorted, somehow trying to protect myself from what I'm putting myself through.. It contains enough tough to see horror/gore to satisfy the bloodhounds (though it doesn't feel like another attempt to up the gore ante for the sake of it, thankfully) and then - if you can watch it and many couldn't - transcends the genre totally with a jaw-dropping final act which if you're interested in the human condition and the capacity for seemingly normal people to do incredibly bad things will have you asking questions for some time to come and recognising that when horror and ideas mesh successfully, the result can be breathtaking. Absolutely not enjoyable but there again if you go to see a horror flick at a film festival and you know beforehand that it originally received an X-certificate in France, kicking up an almighty stink in the process - well, you know that an open mind is the least you can bring to bear. With that in mind I would recommend Martyrs as a film of incredible tension, harrowing physical violence and indelible imagery; unsurprisingly, the director name-checked Dario Argento during the Q&A as a major influence in his youth and there is a clear and confident signature in the work which suggests some parallels can be made between the two film-makers. I loved this movie and for those who have already posted comments good, bad or indifferent (and I really can't imagine a neutral response!) I hope like myself you have come away with a genuine sense of having seen something the like of which we are unlikely to see for some time..