Approach The Goetze Brothers’ Martyrs remake however you like – the sad reality is that whether you look at it in direct comparison with Pascal Laugier’s landmark original, or attempt (as I did) to judge it on its own merits as a standalone piece of work, the chances are it’ll come up short. With a legion of loyal fans of the original ready to disown it on principle, something special was needed here, and this limp, pointless “reimagining” brings nothing to the table, and uniformly fails to make any kind of case to justify its own existence.
The issue with remaking Martyrs for an American audience is a complex one. While it would have been pointless to simply re-tread the ground of the original’s devastating, relentless violence (a faithful rework of the first film’s bleak, challenging second half would surely at this point have been unpleasant for the hell of it), those familiar with Laugier’s film will know how central the violence is to the plot, and to avoid it or neuter it is to almost inherently undercut the impact of its message. As a result, what you have here is a near shot-for-shot recreation of the film’s first act, followed by an apologetic, lightweight second half that neither matches nor adds to its source material. While it was never the filmmakers’ intention to match the original’s ferocity, an attempt to expand on the relationship between the two protagonists is hampered by shaky performances and minimal characterisation, and as a result Martyrs fails both with the elements it tries to revisit and with its creative changes. An insult to the original and too bland to stand on its own to newcomers, this is a remake that is little short of a disaster.
When the news broke that Martyrs was showing at GFF15, groans and moans could be heard far and wide. Many said from the beginning that they were giving it a miss. There I was, in my little corner, waving my tiny little flag, whispering over a sea of angry voices “Maybe it’ll be ok guys? You can’t judge it until you’ve watched it. There are *some* remakes that are better than the original”. I was scared, alone. Hopeful that it wouldn’t suck as bad as everyone had expected it to. I now sit here with a blank expression, veins popping out of the side of my head, my flag burnt and ruined, joining in with the anger and rage, BECAUSE EVERYBODY ELSE WAS RIGHT! I’m not going to offer you a synopsis, I’ll assume you know the drill.
This film was SO BAD! Prepare yourselves, by the way, there’s going to be a LOT of angry caps in this. It started off promising, the chemistry between the two leads was good, the story looked set to mirror the original, but after 15 minutes it just went downhill spectacularly. It made a mockery of the original films message, A GOD DAMN MOCKERY, glossing it over with generic Hollywood sheen and mediocre gore. After the 2008 version, I wanted some A grade gore, what of it? Anyone who’s seen the original will know the meaning of suffering and its significance, and let me tell you, NEITHER OF THOSE GIRLS KNEW WHAT PISSING SUFFERING WAS! I DID! I HAD TO SIT THROUGH IT! I KNOW TORTURE. Even typing this I can feel myself getting angrier by the word count. The characters are one dimensional, clearly dumbed down for people who can’t be arsed to sit through a subtitled film, THOSE PEOPLE DON’T DESERVE TO WATCH FILMS, TOURISTS! Hash tag joking / not joking. The ‘torture’ scenes are painful to sit through, but only because you’re wanting the dullness to end so you can go empty your bladder of the 3 pints you had to down to prep yourself for this. The effects are laughable, to the point where a whole audience was giggling at a woman being burned. I say burned, the cgi will just give her a slight tan, she’ll be fine. Finishing off this crap heap is an ending that makes NO SODDING SENSE!
This whole film is just a nope on the ‘nuh-hu no way’ scale. Unless you enjoy paying for the privilege of getting your arse numbed (yes, some people DO pay for that) avoid at all costs. It only gets a 1.5 from me for the first 15 minutes
Martyrs is out on DVD on April 4th.