The original French version of Martyrs is a pretty divisive horror film, given it’s proximity to the torture porn sub genre’s peak with the Saw and Hostel series. Yet, the extensive torture that takes place in the original film (which I only recently viewed for the first time to prep for this remake) ultimately has a purpose. A purpose that relates to the rather cruel yet serviceable truth that all the suffering and horror one can inflict doesn’t ultimately bring one to a satisfying conclusion. So, Blumhouse has decided to release a new Americanized version of the story, leaving us to question both how this new Martyrs will differentiate itself from the original film and how it would still keep the basic message.
The answer to both is “not very well.” Directors Michael and Kevin Goetz spend the first two thirds pretty much recreating the story of the original film beat for beat, though the violence is far more toned down. By doing so, it completely lacks the direct and harsh impact that sold the nature of the story’s major twist (which I won’t spoil here), thus completely negating the lengths and cruelty that sell the merit of the torture put forth. None of this is helped by the fact that the few moments that are added here are merely there to heavily sell the friendship and Catholic martyr related imagery blatantly to the audience, who this remake seems to completely underestimate the intelligence of. Then, the final act takes a rather direct different take on the narrative that in theory could set itself apart for a modern context while honing in on the message. Instead, the film takes a direct contradiction to the central twist of the premise for Martyrs that not only messes with the intent of the original film, but more importantly completely destroys the premise that this version is going for. I’m not against someone taking the original Martyrs and making it their own… but that’s not what this is. This is just a blatant bastardization, with the only people worth any sort of praise being the solid turns from main actresses Bailey Noble and Troian Bellisario. Otherwise, this is an incredibly incompetent remake that doesn’t do the original justice or carve out its own place. Instead, it lies there like a tortured soul without a single bit of life left in it.
Rating: 1 out of 5 Faulty Torture Devices