Film Gutter Come on in, the water's repetitive... Martyrs (2015) Dir. Kevin Goetz and Michael Goetz, USA, 86 mins
So obviously it's taken me a while to get to this one, because a big part of me didn't really want to get involved in this one. I've never been the biggest fan of remakes, especially when the remake is of a movie that is all but perfect in the first instance. The French original of Martyrs scored maximum points, 10/10 here at Film Gutter back in our March Madness month, and deservedly so. Well, let's just get this bit out of the way first of all. No, it's not as good as the original. And, let's be honest, it couldn't really hope to be. However while I was watching this I did my very best to cast aside any thoughts of the French masterpiece and simply judge this movie in its own right. In that respect, the US take on Martyrs doesn't fare too badly.
If you've seen the original, most of the first half of this movie will reek of deja vu – we have a young girl, Lucy, escaping from her mysterious entrapment and running away to be taken on by an orphanage, where despite being a lonely figure she is befriended by Anna. But she is a young girl haunted by a 'monster' that attacks her, leaving brutal wounds – a being that follows her all the way from childhood to adulthood.
We follow Lucy to a day many years later, where she knocks on the door of a house and proceeds to kill both parents and two teenage children with a shotgun in a startling introduction to our main plot. Lucy is adamant these two people are her tormentors of many years before, and she calls Anna to help her tidy up the mess she has left behind. Anna is not persuaded that this is the truth at all, and that her childhood friend has truly tipped over the edge. But of course there's far more to the story than Anna could have imagined.
While I said I was trying to discount the original in viewing this one, it was hard to avoid the fact that this followed the French version to about the halfway mark before suddenly deviating in the latter half of proceedings, and deviating pretty sharply. In that sense it is a different film – bleak but not as unremittingly bleak as its predecessor, and probably a more palatable version to the mainstream horror audience it was intended for. For me, this second half lagged a good bit behind the French – the young girl featured felt like an unnecessary tug of the heartstrings, and the ending scene was supposed to be more epic but to me simply felt messy and a bit unsatisfying.
Still, to be fair, Martyrs is a decent enough film in its own right. There's lots of nice shots and visuals, and stylistically there's a definite touch of skill here. The acting is very decent on the whole, and there's enough tension and pace to drive throughout the movie and keep the viewer hooked in. With that said, if you have seen the French version, this is liable to leave you feeling a bit frustrated. But if you're one who's not keen on subtitles, or are a bit nervous of the brutality featured in the original, then you might just find this one is a better option for you.
RATING: 6.5/10. As is often the case, I question to value or point of remakes on the whole – are they bringing this work to a new audience, or simply watering down things to be more palatable for the mainstream? Is watching this going to inspire someone to go out and acquaint themselves with the source material? Probably not – after all, everyone has had seven years to catch that one and if they haven't by now they may never do.
With all that said – as remakes go – this one isn't bad. It's not brilliant, and it no doubt lacks the raw intensity of the French, yet there is enough to keep a viewer interested. So it's a fair enough 6.5/10 here.
Film Gutter Volume 1 gathers together the full year of reviews and interviews on extreme horror from the popular Ginger Nuts of Horror site. Featuring a range of brutal classics, an array of cutting-edge international horror and modern gems of the independent scene, this is not to be missed by viewers who love their horror from the cutting edge. Film Gutter Volume 1 also features a range of interviews with directors and actors including Tom Six and Dieter Laser (The Human Centipede), Phil Stevens (Flowers), Jimmy Weber (Eat) and many more, plus exclusive content never seen online!