Martyrs is a laughable film whose only value is that it has a bit of a stream-of-consciousness narrative. You’d never expect its tale of two frightened girls at the orphanage would lead you to a cult of old people who rip the flesh off of young girls in an effort to get them to commune with the afterlife in order to discover if they need to worry about an eternal reward. While this last act twist is, I agree, novel, it is self-defeating. If you are so worried about meeting God, why don’t you just go to confession, instead of kidnapping and brutalizing people?
Anyway, proving that not all French cinema is cigarettes, coffee and Marxism, Martyrs is vile, painful and disgusting, but even that gets boring after a while. Laugier may know how to pour on the ketchup, but his directing style seems to be, “Yell! Now yell more. More yelling! Yell again!”
If you read sites like Bloody-Disgusting, Dread Central and FearNet, Pascal Laugier is the second coming. (Of the splatter sites, ShockTilYouDrop is the lone voice of dissent.) I watched this because there is quite a buzz about how boundary-pushing the movie is, and because Laugier is remaking Hellraiser. Yes, it makes Saw look like Toy Story and the unpredictability of the script is, if you want to be generous, notable – or it could just be the dude doesn’t know how to write. Either way, if you feel the need to martyr yourself, go right ahead.