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With: Morjana Alaoui, Mylène Jampanoï, Erika Scott, Jessie Pham, Catherine Bégin, Isabelle Chasse, Robert Toupin, Patricia Tulasne, Juliette Gosselin, Xavier Dolan-Tadros
Written by: Pascal Laugier
Directed by: Pascal Laugier
MPAA Rating: R for disturbing/severe aberrant behavior involving strong bloody violence, torture, child abuse and some nudity
Language: French, with English subtitles
Running Time: 99
Date: 05/01/2008
IMDB

Martyrs (2008)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Suffering for Transcendence

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Pascal Laugier's Martyrs is one of the most brutal films ever made, and one of the best arguments for the existence of the "torture" subgenre of horror. This movie actually has some real thought and some intriguing ideas going on behind its bloody facade.

In a flashback, a young girl, Lucie, is kidnapped and abused, and when finally rescued, dumped in an orphanage where Anna befriends her. Years later, the teen Lucie breaks into a home and mercilessly butchers the entire family that lives there, claiming that they are responsible for her suffering. Lucie also sees monsters stalking her from time to time. But all of this is just a setup for a much bigger, and crueler picture that's best left undisclosed.

Laugier's writing and direction is of a very high calibre, and absolutely unflinching. He seems to know exactly when to unleash the story's next level, and even the final reveal does not diminish the power of what came before; it only heightens it. Make no mistake, though, this movie is not for the casual viewer. The R-rated theatrical cut runs about 94 minutes, and the "unrated" DVD version runs 99 minutes. Laugier's next was an English-language movie, The Tall Man.

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