Sunday, August 26, 2012


Where do I even start with this review?  It’s such a complex and twisty movie that there’s no simple way to synopsize it.  So I’ll start at the beginning and we’ll see what happens.

Martyrs starts with a young girl (Lucie) running down the road in a tank-top and her underwear.  She had been held captive and tortured for quite a while (although they make a point to say that she was not raped).  She ends up in a mental institution, where she is befriended by her roommate (Anna).  Lucie is tormented by an emaciated, scarred, contorted woman who shows up occasionally to attack her.

Give us a kiss

We pick up with Lucie and Anna 15 years later.  Lucie enters the house of a seemingly normal family, and proceeds to kill everyone in the house with a shotgun.  She calls Anna, telling her that she has found the people who tortured her.  According to Anna, it was only supposed to be a surveillance mission, but Lucie couldn’t help herself. 

Before Anna can get to the house, Lucie is attacked by the scarred woman.  Lucie says something to the effect of, “I killed them all.  You’re free now,” which leads us to believe that this woman went through the same ordeal as Lucie, and that they were connected somehow.

Anna shows up and helps Lucie clean up the mess.  Eventually the scarred woman shows up and we find out what we assume all along: that this woman is only in Lucie’s head.

From there, the movie takes a number of shifts that I can’t really get into without ruining anything.  It’s kind of amazing how many times this movie completely shifts, and yet it’s completely cohesive.  Throughout the course of the movie, this could be described with these plot points: revenge, torture, sci-fi, religious, psychological thriller and probably a few more that I’m forgetting about.  Some of these blend between genres, but there are also 2-3 massive shifts that completely change the course of the movie.  I can honestly say I’ve never really seen anything quite like it.  From Dusk Till Dawn is the easy comparison, but there’s only 1 major shift in that movie.  It would be like if From Dusk Till Dawn went from robbery movie to vampire movie to slasher movie to buddy comedy, and made it all look seamless.

All that being said, I wasn’t a huge fan of this movie.  Looking back on it, I can certainly appreciate what they did.  It was a unique movie, and it was done very well.  But, while I was watching it, I just felt kind of ill.  It was a dark and brutal movie.  There was a lot of pretty graphic violence against women.  I have seen a lot of movies.  I have a pretty strong stomach for violence and blood.  But this one pushed me to my limit.  After it was over, the only thing I wanted to do was watch a comedy and take a shower.

There were also a couple moments that just left me shaking my head.  Lucie killed an entire family with a shotgun.  Sure, they seemed to be out in the country a bit, but a shotgun is loud.  Wasn’t there a chance that someone heard the noise?  Even if they didn’t hear the noise, isn’t there a threat of an unannounced visitor stopping by? 

My point is, after you kill an entire family, you would think “getting out of the house” would be a pretty good move, right?  Not according to Lucie and Anna.  I don’t know that they ever explicitly say how long they’re in the house, but I have to assume they’re in the house for at least a day.  With blood and dead bodies everywhere.  Even later, when Anna makes a disturbing discovery about the house (one that would lead anyone to believe that there was either someone in the house), she still doesn’t get out.  In the face of all logic and warning signs, Lucie and Anna stay in the house, practically begging to get caught.  I kept saying, “Don’t stay overnight!  Get out of the house!”  They never listen to me.

Overall, I didn’t love this movie.  As I’ve said, I can appreciate it, but I never want to watch it again. 

Rating: 3/5

I'll end with a series of posters, because I came across some pretty cool posters for this film.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Deadly Blessing

I watched this for Final Girl’s film club.  I had actually never heard of this movie before, despite it being an early Wes Craven movie.  This movie came out 4 years after The Hills Have Eyes and 3 years before A Nightmare on Elm Street.  By looking at the cover, I didn’t know what to expect.  Something sexy with Sharon Stone, probably.
I was even wrong on that front.

The basic story is simple.  Martha and Jim live on a farm (titled “Our Blessing”) next to an extremely conservative religious group called the Hittites.  It is said that these Hittites “make the Amish look like swingers.”  (I have been around quite a few Amish in my day, and I don’t believe that statement to be true.  Moving on…) 
One night, Jim hears a noise in his barn.  He goes out to check it out, and is promptly run over by his tractor.  His death is chalked up to an accident.  Apparently tractors often start themselves up and run people over?  Like Christine, but much slower.
The leader of the Hittites (a man named Isaiah, played with crazed fanaticism by Ernest Borgnine) tries to buy the farm off of Martha.  She says no, and he calls her “the incubus” (which he does a lot of in this movie).  He’s very angry and pretty threatening.  It’s clear that we are to believe that he is the killer.

Martha’s city friends (Lana and Vicky) come out to visit/console Martha.  Vicky falls for one of the Hittites (John, who is one of Isaiah’s sons), but it appears to be a lost cause, as he is already engaged to his cousin.  Ah…young love.

El Amor Prohibido

Lana doesn’t have anywhere near as much fun.  She gets trapped in the barn with the killer, has the corpse of Jim fall on her, and has recurring nightmares of having spiders crawl into her mouth (thus the cover, now decidedly unsexy).

Weird stuff happens around the house, and it is clear that someone (or something) is trying to kill them.  Or, rather, trying to kill Martha. 

It has the feel of a slasher movie: a shadowy figure hiding in dark places, stalking pretty girls.  A pretty standard stalk-and-kill movie, but with a slightly different feel.  For the majority of the movie, it was not clear if the killer was an actual person or a supernatural being.  That adds a bit more mystery to the events of the movie.

Overall, I didn’t love this.  It wasn’t overly long (100 minutes), but it was really slow in parts, which made it feel much longer than its actual running time.  The story really seemed to drag at times.  I know there were multiple times where it didn’t feel like anything was happening.  I was bored quite often while watching this.
Still, it wasn’t all bad.  There were a number of entertaining parts: some intentional, some not.  I laughed pretty much every time Isaiah called someone “the incubus”.  I laughed at the ridiculously skimpy outfits that Vicky wore around the extremely conservative Hittites (because when your friend’s husband was quite possibly murdered by an extreme religious group, the smart thing to do is provoke them).  And I laughed at the final jump scare, which seemed out of place but also kind of fitting.

There was one scene that I found really interesting.  Martha is in the bathtub, and the killer releases a snake into the bathroom.  It finds its way into the tub, and, while Martha has her eyes closed, raises its head above the water between her legs.  Craven would use this exact same scene 3 later in A Nightmare on Elm Street.  It is the exact same shot (with Freddy’s claw substituted for the snake, naturally).

I guess I’m glad I watched this, but I can’t say I really enjoyed it too much.  I didn’t hate it, but I wouldn’t choose to watch it again, and I would really recommend it to anyone.

Rating: 1.5/5

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Before the Mask: The Return of Leslie Vernon

In case you don't know, I absolutely love Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon.  It's one of my favorite movies to come out in the past 10 years.  It's an amazing mix of horror and comedy, and can almost double as a master class in the slasher genre.  If you have any interest in slasher movies, you really need to see this movie.

The makers of that movie are trying to raise funds to make a sequel (prequel?), titled Before the Mask: The Return of Leslie Vernon.  With 4 days to go, they need to raise around $300,000 in the next 4 days.  It's a long shot, but, if you have the money and time, please head over and check out their Kickstarter page.

Also, if you haven't seen Behind the Mask, please watch that movie as soon as possible.

I just watched The Prowler tonight, so I'll probably be writing about that at some point.  I also need to get a review of YellowBrickRoad up.  And Deadly Blessing.  And Hostel III.  And I'm also planning on re-watching all the Nightmare on Elm Street movies and breaking those down.
The point is, I have a lot of things that I will be writing about.  Hopefully I will actually get around to doing that.

But the bigger point is, please go to the Leslie Vernon Kickstarter page and check it out.