Independent horror and thriller films have a tougher time than most genres coming out of the box with something original. In this day and age after countless decades of material put to the screen, there is really very little left to create anew. Still, some admirable attempts are made and once in awhile something might prove to be worthwhile, even if it is not entirely a breath of fresh air. Martyrs (released on Blu-ray, February 2nd, 2016 by Anchor Bay Canada) is one such attempt in the thriller arena for North American audiences, as it stands as a remake of a under-the-radar 2008 French horror/thriller film of the same name.
Martyrs is the story of two young girls; Lucie (Troian Bellisario) and Amy (True Blood’s Bailey Noble) who get caught up in the most visceral of circumstances imaginable after growing up together in an orphanage. When Lucie was younger, she escaped a traumatizing captivity from an unknown kidnapper and Amy’s friendship became her lifeline to her sanity. But when Lucie inexplicably tracks down her captors and exacts a violent revenge, Amy tries desperately to protect her friend in the aftermath, but things rapidly go from bad to worse when the real truth behind Lucie’s captivity comes to light.
What’s unfortunate about Martyrs is that it starts off with an incredible bang and sets itself up with intriguing possibilities. Lucy finds her childhood captors very early in the movie and her plan of revenge opens with a surprise wallop and hits with incredible ferocity thereafter. But once Amy comes into the picture to help her, the movie quickly nosedives into ridiculousness and its central concept/plot revolving around a group trying to uncover death’s mysteries through torture gets lost in translation.
To that extent, Martyrs toys with a possibility that Lucie is possessed by a demon, but it is far more of a torture-porn horror/thriller in the realm of Saw and The Loved Ones…but perhaps even more extreme. At the end of it all it’s a confusing and unfocused mess of a movie. While a good amount of credit goes to Troian Bellisario for her dedicated performance (both physical and mental) as Lucie, it’s not quite enough to save the film.
The Blu-ray edition presents Martyrs in a widescreen presentation with a 2.40:1 aspect ratio and the 1080p high-definition image for the film is quite impressive, the picture quality is nicely bright, clear and vivid on color. The edition also comes with a strong DolbyTrueHD 5.1 audio track. But while the technical aspects of the edition are solid, the disc only comes with one bonus feature; a light ‘First Look’ interview piece with the two lead actresses and directors (Kevin and Michael Goetz).
As good as it may look or seem on the surface, Martyrs is certainly not a film to be remembered in the long run. Although it shows promise with its ‘Dr. Frankenstein’ inspired plot line and jaw-dropping first act, it goes absolutely nowhere worthwhile. One could argue that the remake should have never happened to begin with and the same goes with this Blu-ray release.