‘Martyrs’ Trailer: The Modern French Horror Classic Gets a Friendlier Remake
Pascal Laugier’s brutal 2008 film Martyrs arrived at a time when the French were delivering some of the most interesting and visceral horror, like Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo’s Inside and Claire Denis’ Trouble Every Day. Like those films, Martyrs was confrontational and existentially-driven, not content with delivering tedious acts of outrageous violence, or what American audiences had dubbed “torture porn.” Unfortunately, the remake of Martyrs kind of looks like it’s missing the point.
It’s not that the trailer for the U.S. remake looks outright terrible, or that it doesn’t address the concept of divine suffering (it does, perhaps a little too much) — it’s that the Goetz brothers’ update on the source material looks strangely outdated, and it gives away what was considered to be a big plot twist from the original. Laugier’s film presented itself as a home invasion thriller before taking a mean, sharp right turn in the second act. The trailer for this film is all that second act stuff and almost none of the home invasion set-up.
For all its violence, the film looks a little too sanitized, and lacks some kick. Laugier conceived of and wrote the original Martyrs while experiencing a bout of deep depression, and those very personal, very existential feelings obviously informed the film’s look and feel. You can replicate a story, but you can’t replicate the feelings that went into making it, which should make this an interesting exercise if nothing else.
Directed by Kevin and Michael Goetz (Scenic Route), and written by Mark L. Smith (The Revenant), Martyrs stars Troian Bellisario (Pretty Little Liars) and Caitlin Carmichael (300: Rise of an Empire) in the lead roles and is officially described as follows:
Ten-year-old Lucie flees from the isolated warehouse where she has been held prisoner. Deeply traumatized, she is plagued by awful night terrors at the orphanage that takes her in. Her only comfort comes from Anna, a girl her own age. Nearly a decade later and still haunted by demons, Lucie finally tracks down the family that tortured her. As she and Anna move closer to the agonizing truth, they find themselves trapped in a nightmare – if they cannot escape, a martyr’s fate awaits them…
This seems to be the question of the most interest, so let’s get right to it. If you’ve seen the first, or to put it more bluntly, are a huge fan of the first film’s violence; this film will certainly not shock you. The first film pretty much knocked it out of the park with how far you can push torture and pain cinematically: it was literally breathtaking. But for as many people that loved it; it alienated just as many. This version is definitely a bit more accessible graphic-wise: but still pushes boundaries nonetheless.
Sure, the intense violence appealed to horror fans who seek out the kinds of movies that will test their endurance, but it was just a hook — and it was never treated like a gimmick, or like the sort of “torture porn” popularized by Eli Roth. Even those who sought to emulate Roth’s Hostel films missed the point of what he was doing, which was itself sort of aping Michael Haneke in wryly condemning its audience for finding entertainment in such horror.
Anyway, the Martyrs remake is coming to select theaters and VOD on January 22, 2016, followed by a very quick trip to DVD and Blu-ray on February 2.