This is one you may need to prepare yourself for. Equal parts orphanage ghost story, suburban revenge fantasy, and medical experimentation horror flick, the whole of Martyrs is a brutal tale that is hard to watch, hard to turn away from, and worth the effort.
On the surface we follow Lucie’s (Mylene Jampanoi) descent into madness after escaping, as a child, from an abandoned warehouse where she’d been tortured by unknown hands.
Mining the heartbreaking loneliness of abandoned, damaged children, the film follows the profound relationship between Lucie and the only friend she will ever have, an undeterrably loving Anna (Morjana Alaoui).
Constantly subverting expectations, including those immediately felt for Anna’s love, writer/director Pascal Laugier makes a series of sharp turns, but he throws unforgettable images at you periodically, and your affection for the leads keeps you breathlessly engaged.
The third act offers the most abrupt change of course as well as tone, and the proceedings are tough to stomach, but well conceived and equally skillfully executed. It holds some gruesome imagery, and though the climax may not be pleasing, it certainly doesn’t disappoint.
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