Martyrs (2015) … & the Point Was??

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This is what it has come down to. We are now getting remakes of films in which the original isn’t even a decade old!! I’m not going to go on a tirade here on remakes in general. Let’s face it, if it wasn’t for remakes then we would have never gotten David Cronenberg’s THE FLY, John Carpenter’s THE THING, or even Fede Alvarez’s EVIL DEAD. So I’m not going to rail against remakes. With that said, let me ask one question about the 2015 remake of MARTYRS: “What the fuck did I just watch?” Seriously, this remake of the 2008 masterpiece is stripped of everything that gave the original such a gut-punch and replaced it with a spoon-fed narrative devoid of anything suspenseful, dramatic, or scary.

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The MARTYRS remake starts off pretty much exactly like the original. A young Lucie (Troian Bellisario) manages to escape her shackles and her torturers. We watch as the police raid the warehouse where Lucie was held captive only to find that there is nothing there to backup Lucie’s story. They write her off as a traumatized girl (which she is) and she winds up in an orphanage. There she slowly makes friends with Anna (Bailey Noble), who helps her through her traumatic past, and the two forge a life-long friendship.

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Then we jump ten years into the future (the present time), and join Lucie as she invades the home of what seems like a typical farming family. Sound familiar? It should. So far the MARTYRS remake follows Pascal Laugier’s original to the “T.” In fact, it feels as though they are using the same damn script!! Much of the action follows the same format as the original, but the biggest difference is with the narration. In the original film, the character of Mademoiselle (played by Catherine Bégin) had a smallish role as the matriarch of the secret society. In the remake, this role is expanded. Now we get an actual character name–Eleanor (Kate Burton)–and her primary role is to spoon-feed the audience exactly what is going on. The remake also turns Anna into a faux-action hero who saves the day. 

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The great thing about the original film is that once the film took that dark turn, Laugier managed to avoid sliding into the realm of exploitation. The scenes of torture were integral to the main plot and weren’t there just to get a reaction out of the audience. The viewer understood what was happening and the reason for the torture–to attempt to have one of the girls to achieve a state of martyrdom, thereby getting a glimpse into the Divine–without it being fed to us like a momma bird regurgitating and pushing the food down a chick’s throat. Apparently director’s Kevin Goetz and Michael Goetz didn’t trust the American viewer to grasp what is happening in their film. Hence, we get the fumbling, over-narrated voice overs that really take away from the tension and atmosphere of the film.

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So, is the MARTYRS remake a complete waste of time? Yes and no. The acting is pretty tight from the cast and the scenes are well shot. The gore scenes are also well done, but the overall film has zero of the impact and gut-punch of the original. Plot-wise, everything was so watered down for an American audience that I started to get offended by how dumb the directors and writer (Mark L. Smith) thought we were. There’s just no impact or edge in this film. I know the following comment sounds cliche to say about a remake, but this really is a pointless remake that should never have seen the light of day. It’s a shame that there will be people who will watch this film and never see the original.

Don’t be one of those people!!

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My Summary:

Directors: Kevin Goetz and Michael Goetz

Plot: 1 out of 5 stars (due to the over-narration)

Gore: 7 out of 10 skulls

Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains

Reviewed by Scott Shoyer

Stay Bloody!!!

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