Synopsis: A woman and her childhood friend seek out revenge on those who victimized and abused them.
Release Date: January 22, 2016 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre(s): Drama, Horror
Remaking an iconic horror movie is always a risky proposition. Sometimes it works out, like with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Maniac. Other times, not so much, such as with Carrie or Poltergeist. Then, there are times when one wonders why it was even done in the first place. That’s the case with Martyrs, the remake of the incredible 2008 French film of the same name.
Martyrs is about a young woman named Lucie (Troian Bellisario from “Pretty Little Liars”) who, as a child, was found on the streets after escaping from a family of torturous and neglectful captors. Lucie spends the rest of her childhood growing up in an orphanage, haunted by nightmares of her past and imaginary monsters. After fifteen years, Lucie goes in search of closure by tracking down her tormentors – and killing them. She calls the only friend she has – another girl from the orphanage named Anna (Bailey Noble from “True Blood”) – to help her clean up the mess. Once Anna arrives, the girls discover that the situation is bigger than Lucie had initially thought; not only is Lucie not the only victim of the torture, but the people she killed are not the only guilty parties.
This reimaging of Martyrs was directed by Kevin and Michael Goetz (the pair who made Scenic Route) from a script by Mark L. Smith (The Revenant), using the original 2008 screenplay by Pascal Laugier (The Tall Man) as a guide. For the most part, Smith’s script follows the original, except for one crucial difference that occurs about halfway through the film. Without giving anything away, let’s just say something happens (or, rather, something doesn’t happen) that changes the texture of the second half of the movie, shifting the focus a tad. The rest of the film still stays fairly close to the original, but the approach is tweaked a little. It’s not better, and it’s not worse. It’s just a bit different.
So, the question remains, why remake a movie that is less than ten years old in the first place? The obvious answer is probably the correct one; the new Martyrs is Americanized. It’s not just the language, although the dialogue being in English rather than French is probably the biggest difference between the two films. The whole vibe of the new version is toned down – the rough edges are dulled, and the bite is weakened. It’s a tidier and cleaner film, but just as the dirt and grime of the original is stripped away, so is much of the power and impact. In short, the Goetz Brothers take a brutal and disturbing film, and turn it into just another horror movie.
Like Carrie and Poltergeist, Martyrs is a well-made movie, slick and competent, but there’s not a whole lot of point to its existence. If there had never been an original version, the new one would stand quite nicely on its own. As it is, however, it comes up short in the comparison. The only reason for an audience to prefer the new Martyrs over the old one would be the valid gripe that they don’t want to deal with the French language issues. But, if the viewer doesn’t mind reading subtitles, they’ll be better off just seeking out Pascal Laugier’s grittier 2008 version.
As far as scares go, Martyrs has its fair share. Like the original, the terror lies in the fact that the atrocities are committed by real people, and that makes it much scarier than any ghost or monster movie, but there are also very real psychological demons within Lucie’s head that are terrifying as well. Both versions contain plenty of nail-biting suspense and hair-pulling anxiety, but while the 2008 movie was full of brutality and cringe-worthy gore, the reimagining relies more on jump scares, because that’s what American audiences want to see and experience. Of course, there can’t be a film called Martyrs without some degree of torture and viscera being present, but the blood and guts is toned down a lot. Instead, the film is a series of visually startling moments. Some are telegraphed and some are not, but all of them are pretty effective. The Goetz Brother’s Martyrs is a different kind of scary than Laugier’s Martyrs. There’s more seat jumping and less seat squirming.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Kevin Goetz
- Producer(s): Wyck GodfreyPeter Safran
- Screenwriter(s): Mark L. SmithPascal Laugier (Characters)
- Cast: Bailey Noble (Anna)Troian Bellisario (Lucie)Caitlin Carmichael (Sam) Toby Huss (Fenton)Kate Burton (Eleanor)Romy Rosemont (Mom)Blake Robbins (Dad)Taylor John Smith (Son)Lexi DiBenedetto (Daughter)Elyse Cole (Young Anna)Ever Prishkulnik (Young Lucie)Melissa Tracy (The Creature)
- Editor(s): Jake York
- Cinematographer: Sean O’Dea
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer: Sheila Hume
- Casting Director(s): Jordan BassLauren Bass
- Music Score: Evan Goldman
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USA