Skip to content

Martyrs is Hellraiser for New Generation

May 21, 2009

There is a point that comes while watching Pascal Laugier’s Martyrs that is unexplainable; it is at that point, catching me unaware, when I decided that I was no longer viewing just sick, twisted, demented mayhem. It is in this moment that I was able to let go of myself, of all the thoughts and feelings that were preventing me from truly understanding, from letting the essence in, and it was then that I transcended the viewing experience and became a part of the exploration, an explorer on an expedition, discovering once again the miraculous power of horror.

Martyrs is what I search for in every issue of Fangoria, in every film that I sit up late at night with. These don’t come along so often, which is a good thing, I guess. Because if they did, then the wonder and enlightenment that is part of the experience of a film like Martyrs would never exist. Martyrs is part of a unique class.

A young girl escapes from a warehouse in distress, panic, and pain. She is caked with dirt, blood, and grime. She has clearly been abused and is running for her life. Cut to a hospital viewed via 8 mm film reel, where Lucy, our victim, is befriended by another patient, Anna. Lucy is traumatized and paranoid, and the teaser before the credits ends with a glimpse of a terrible creature. Something horrible is coming.

And from the moment the we return post opening credits, Martyrs moves like a roaring steal roller-coaster. The audience is anticipating, but a bit nervous, confused; this is not what I expected. Who are these people that we are watching during their Sunday morning breakfast. They are a sweet family, joking, ragging on each other, laughing. Mom comes in from the garden; she just fixed the water pump. Hmm, that is odd. Mom is outside with the toolbox while dad eats breakfast with the kids. Once mom enters, the conversation moves quickly, and it rings true. In a brief moment, we grow to like these people. I want to know what is going to happen with them.

The doorbell rings.

Laugier at first disgusts us with rugged, sick brutality. How can someone do this. But then he forces us to ponder the question we all fear; should we excuse those recourse to the law who are tortured and mentally unstable? But no, he doesn’t let us think about it for too long, because the next question arises; is it real? How could Lucy have gotten those long, open gashes on her back? It must be real.

conceptual art from Barkers Hellraiser

But that question is to submerged as we learn the next horrible secret. But the best part is still to come. There is a philosophy at work here; a beautiful, graceful study of the oldest, most terrifying unknown. And we move closer to one revelation after another; as we witness the most unbearable, inhuman acts one could imagine, we begin to understand where we are being lead. Like voyeurs we cannot turn away. The brutal imagery melts away to reveal a complex foundation of philosophical ponderings.

Soon, it seems, we are watching a glorious, masterpiece of film that will no doubt transform those who make it to the end. It is not a challenge; I would never challenge anyone to sit through this film, but I know that those who do will feel it. Those who can make it to the bitter end will have experienced something that only a handful of movies have ever delivered. Martyrs will make you wonder what horror is; Martyrs will make you forget all the rubbish, all the remakes, and all the mindless slasher films that have come before it. It is a horror movie; but not for the reasons you may imagine.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Stephanie permalink
    December 22, 2009 10:24 pm

    Wow. Martyrs sucked balls. There was hardly a decent story line involved. It was simply a piss-poor whack at a horror movie, with a cheesy attempt at a pornographic twist. It was slow, dull, and had a great lack of dialog. It seemed to take several extremely boring years to get through that piece of shit movie. I can’t put it any other way; it sucked, for lack of a better word.

    Clive Barker is amazing, as was his work in the first 3 Hellraiser movies. Nobody could pull off remaking the Hellraiser movies, especially this jerk-off Pascal Laugier.

    • drewgolburgh permalink*
      December 29, 2009 4:15 am

      Sadly, and quite evident on the screen, Clive Barker had little to do with Hellraiser 2 and 3. For a better understanding of clive barker’s work, check out Nightbreed and Lord of Illusions; or better yet, read the books of blood, the great and secret show, and weaveworld.

  2. Jacqueline Golburgh permalink
    December 28, 2009 6:45 am

    A beautifully written review by Drew Golburgh. He’s peaked my curiosity!

  3. March 28, 2010 11:06 am

    Thanks very much for helping

  4. February 3, 2013 10:37 pm

    How dare you insult Hellraiser with such an association.

  5. jim permalink
    July 24, 2013 11:58 pm

    Agree completely with your review. Five years after seeing Martyrs, I still can’t forget it.
    Amazing, transcendent art.

    • drewgolburgh permalink*
      July 25, 2013 8:11 am

      Thank you for reading. Much appreciated.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: