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Tourture Is Not Enough or How Martyrs Left Me Wanting More

Spoiler Alert: I'm about to write things that you probably don't want to read.  Also, I'm going to give away a number of plot points to "Martyrs".


I love "Rue Morgue". It's - quite literally - the only magazine that I read. For the past few years, when asked by my mother what I want for my birthday, I can only respond, "renew my subscription to 'Rue Morgue'."

And she does. God bless that woman!

Luckily for me, I've fallen in love with a man who, although not so much as myself, loves horror.  When RM arrives, I dive into it immediately. Once I've made my way through it, I'm magnanimous enough to let him read it.

Recently, he's been combing the movie reviews and renting the movies he reads about. Thanks to this new found hobby, we have seen some real gems.

A few days ago, while hiding out from tornadoes, we sat down to watch "Martyrs". Not 100% convinced that I would be wowed (being as jaded as I am), I opened my laptop and started working while the movie began. Within 15 minutes or so, I realized my fingers were just hovering over the keys and I was engrossed in the movie.

"Impressive."
I thought. It's not often I get immediately wrapped up like that.

The thing that struck me first was the violence; base, feral, and wonderfully graphic.  
Lucie's brutal, shot-gun wielding assault on the couple who tortured her was so beautifully reminiscent of the original "Funny Games" that my breath nearly caught in my throat. The abruptness, as well as, the juxtaposition of her rage with the serene, run-of-the-mill family breakfast are truly incredible and powerful. I may actually have been in love, at that moment.

You just don't see that kind of thing in American horror cinema. It's a pity.

The effects were pretty terrific - among my top favorites was Anna's skinned body. Truly lovely and very Hellraiser-esque. 

But the movie sort of lost me along the way.

Scariest thing ever? The "unknown" or "unexplained": don't tell me why you're kidnapping, torturing, and killing women. Just do it. Leaving me to guess at your motives is way more effective than detailing your evil plan. It's all about "not knowing". Once you know, you're no longer sacred.  Like Nancy says (in "Nightmare on Elm Street"), "I know your secret now... I take back all the power I gave you."

Martyrs manage to hold onto its secrets just long enough to make them intriguing and then blew the whole thing with a Scooby Doo wrap-up. Which you always see in American cinema. This, not only, reduces the terror but, effectively, calls the viewer a moron.

-2 for that move.

On a related note, trying to tie a bow around the whole story leads to a (terribly) predictable, downward slide into the obvious. Anna's imprisonment? Yeah, we saw that coming. And instead of strengthening the story, it lead me into what seemed like an entirely separate movie (a poor-man's sequel, perhaps?).

Here's the thing about horror - it suffers the same overarching problem as porn: once you've seen the money shot, well, there's nothing else to see. Thankfully, the porn industry has embraced this failing and used it to it's advantage. Unfortunately, horror has yet to manage such consistent intelligence in determining when to end a movie.

This, "second movie" also made me realize something about myself: torture, alone, is boring to me.  I honestly am not moved by torture. I don't know if I'm simply not scared by it or if I'm truly that desensitized. 

Chuck in some rape though, and I'm there.

Maybe physical pain is just too tolerable(?) to me. Or maybe it just seems so empty and half-hearted: Whipped cream with no cherry. Peanut butter without jelly. Who beats, starves, and cages a human in order to degrade them - and doesn't rape them? I mean, on a scale of 1 to total degradation, rape scores pretty high on the chart.

Just seems like a no-brainer, to me. Watch the trailer here:

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