Remakes in the horror genre are inevitable. There have been tons already created and released and there will tons more to come. Bring them on, I say. Quite frankly, I have enjoyed a number of remakes, reboots, and re-tellings including the likes of Friday the 13th and Evil Dead. The newest remake to cause all sorts of commotion amongst the horror fanboys is Kevin and Michael Goetz’s Martyrs.
As a child, Lucie (Troian Bellisario, TV’s “Pretty Little Liars”) was kidnapped and tortured. She escaped and was then raised in an orphanage, but the trauma had already been too much for young Lucie to handle. Ten years later, she has managed to track down the people responsible for those heinous events. To help clean up the bloody mess, she calls her only friend, Anna (Bailey Noble, TV’s “True Blood), who also happened to grow up at the same orphanage. Even though Anna doesn’t fully believe Lucie about the identity of the people she has just killed, she quickly tries to help her broken friend to cover up the tracks… until she stumbles upon the shocking truth that Lucie was right all along. The girls are now caught in the same brutal predicament that Lucie was 10 years prior — subjects of torture for the purpose of gaining a higher knowledge, according to the sick individuals running this show.
I remember watching Pascal Laugier’s Martyrs a few years back and not quite understanding all of the hype surrounding it. While I enjoyed the film, it didn’t have this profound effect on me like it seemed to have had on so many others. Was I missing something? This extreme French film actually felt like two films smashed together with somewhat random disregard to any type of natural progression and it left me kind of disappointed. I wasn’t heavily touched by it and didn’t think it was this great piece of art that everyone needed to see.
Those sentiments are probably not the only ones that you guys may disagree with, as I am going to be really blasphemous here and state that I actually like the Goetz’s brothers rendition of the film more than the original. This new Martyrs is not a shot-for-shot remake of the film and while I think most people are happy with that, that’s all they seem to be happy about. I’ve heard mostly negative reviews, but I really can’t say anything negative myself. The story is much more character driven, exploring the relationship between Anna and Lucie way more than the original had and the film itself is more cohesive than its French predecessor. The story was told in a much more linear progression and made much more sense in the end, not leaving me scratching my head like I was years ago.
I’ve heard arguments that the Goetz brothers have ‘sucked the soul’ from the original film. Have they really? I will note that Martyrs 2015 is not nearly has unrelenting in its torturous ways as Martyrs 2008, but is that what takes the soul from this horror body? If you are a hardcore loyalist to the first film and it is killing you to compare these films, then the answer is simple… Stop comparing them. I understand that it is only natural, considering they are technically the same story, but why not just try to enjoy this film for what it is? I was hugely disappointed with 2010’s A Nightmare on Elm Street, but it was not because it was a remake; It was because it was an awful film from start to finish. Don’t watch Martyrs with the original at the forefront of your mind. Just sit back, relax, and have a good time with a great horror film.
Martyrs is not for everyone, especially if you are one of the people who is in love with the original Laugier film. It does, however, feature some great performances, impressive practical effects, and a good script, leaving it impossible for me to not recommend it to all. Put your remake-hating feelings aside and give this one a shot. It is available now on VOD, DVD, and Blu-ray from Anchor Bay Entertainment.
I give this film 3.5 rides on a cloud out of 5.