Despite the tepid and stale tease that is autumn in Los Angeles, the spirit of Halloween remains high. Yes, pumpkin spiced treats are deviously attempting to reign champion of this festive season, but we all know what truly encompasses the heart of October: a good scare. With a disheartening lack of horror films being released this month, I was delighted to indulge in the American re-imagining of the gruesome French film Martyrs at Screamfest 2015.
Before the screening I was fortunate enough to chat with the film's creative show-runners including the dynamic directing duo Kevin and Michael Goetz (the brothers behind 2013's Scenic Route). With a few glasses of wine and zesty hors d'oeuvres running through everyone's systems, guards were low and anticipations were high for this premiere. Hearing Michael speak about this project in such a genuinely humble manner was inspiring. Not only was the film a family effort (the directors even spilled that they originally shot a small cameo for their father), but its lower-budget antics allowed for the story to be about the protagonists' relationship as opposed to simply flashy scares and effects--a notion Michael and Kevin were extremely proud of.
Sparked with excitement from the kind words of the Goetz brothers, I approached the actresses behind the film's fierce but tragic heroines, Bailey Noble and Troian Bellisario. Bailey emitted such a warm and gentle energy in person (if one couldn't tell from her adorable elephant blouse), that I was thrilled to see how she would approach a character living under grizzly circumstances. Similarly, Troian's presence lit up the room. Upon discussing her upcoming writing ventures and our shared love for both Charlie Kaufman's screenplays and Oscar Isaac, I knew that the actress was capable of amazing things outside the realm of her hit T.V. show Pretty Little Liars.
With these encounters fresh in my mind I knew it was time to finally view the film. Learning that the project was produced by Blumhouse only heightened the expectations of the horror to come--the company consistently cultivating lesser-known films into terrifying hits. Martyrs upheld this reputation beautifully. The story, centering upon two best friends seeking revenge on their childhood abusers, disturbed on a psychological level and impressed with its sharp focus on the relationship between the women. In a sea of raunchy slasher flicks and appropriately deemed "torture porn" in recent years, it was fresh and intriguing to see females fighting for their lives in a way that was powerful and non-derogatory.
Martyrs isn't set for a theatrical release until January, but let it encourage you to welcome underdogs and kick-ass ladies to your screen this Halloween season!