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.