ByPaul Donovan, writer at
A jerk with an opinion. An explorer of transgressive cinema. See more things about movies at
Paul Donovan

1. This movie, directed by the Goetz Brothers, is billed as "The Ultimate Horror Movie". It's a complete lie.

I don't think I've ever been as mad or as disgusted at such a cinematic disaster as this one. Thirty seconds into it, I knew it was trash. My friend, watching it with me, wanted to give it a real chance. He lasted 8 more minutes before he gave up and agreed with me. I know, because I timed him.

2. The original 2008 French horror film, Martyrs, changed my life. It was a cinematic and cultural landmark. Not only was it an example of a new extreme in horror film, but it was existentially relevant. It was smart, and bleak, and excruciating, but it dared to take on the issue of one of the most important questions of being human (for my thoughts on the original, go HERE)

3. The American remake (which got a small theatrical release in January 2016) is everything that the original is not. Or it's not anything that the original is. Whatever.

4. Both versions have the same basic plot: a girl escapes from captors that had been torturing her, finds a friend, and together they try to get revenge.

Besides that basic plot set-up, however, these are opposite movies. The original is about the limits of trauma that a human can endure, and what happens when those limits are passed. The remake, in the words of the screenwriter Mark Smith, is about "trying to save a friend."

5. The cinematography of this film is flat and uninspired. It looks like it was made with barely more than a college student ramen-noodle budget.

6. The performances are laughably terrible. None of the actors seem to know how to show more pain than they would tearing a fingernail. The two main actresses look like models, complete with bouncy curly hair.

7. The extreme violence that this story requires is turned down in this movie to about the same level as an episode of CSI: Miami. During the captivity scenes, the two women (yes, two) are wearing padded handcuffs that they could have easily escaped from.

8. The original Martyrs did not do that well in the box office. It was too extreme, and the philosophical implications were too horrible, for most audiences to handle. But writer/director Pascal Laugier had the guts to take the movie where it needed to go, which made it famous in certain circles.

This movie is about as gutsy as American Idol.

9. If you are a serious fan of cinema, this movie is useful as a study of how American films differ from French films on the same topic. Other than that, there is no possible reason to watch this film. If you haven't seen the original, this piece of trash will not give you the intended message. And if you have seen the original, the very fact that this version was even made is an insult to your existence.

What did you think? Should the film-makers be arrested and jailed, or merely exiled, for such a cinematic crime? Let us know below!


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