One of the most amazing pieces of Cinema from the last few years is Pascal Laugier’s Martyrs. I only managed to track it down recently Via Lovefilm but its now available on Amazon and Play.

On a deserted street in the middle of an industrial estate a half naked, visibly abused girl runs screaming. Bruised, bloody and suffering from dementia she is eventually rescued by the local police. Her name is Lucie and she’s been missing for over a year but refuses to give away any information describing her captors or any details concerning her abduction. During an intensive investigation the police eventually discover an abandoned factory containing what looks like a torture chamber. But what exactly took place and how Lucie managed to escape remains a mystery. Many years after the incident a seemingly normal family have an unexpected guest during breakfast. Their surprise visitor is a distraught young woman carrying a loaded shotgun, intent on revenge.

Martyrs is an incredibly engaging experience. Unlike the Torture porn of Hostel and Saw the film transcends the idea of “Look at all our special effects”, and “Look at all the blood” and focus on Human emotion and presents it in the most raw way imaginable. Laugier pulls not punches in presenting this as honestly as possible and its the theme of “Honest and real” thats runs deep across every aspect of the film, the performances, the direction, the cinematography, the plot and the pacing of the film.

The film gained mostly praise from the critics and those that didn’t like it were mainly critics of the Horror genre. Laugier has mentioned in interviews the problem’s he had trying to make the film, he stated “the film was rejected by all the big French studios, by a lot of actresses, too. (…) The film was really supported by Canal+, the only television channel in France that still finances some unusual projects.”

I feel I must warn you, even though I would recommend this film to anyone and everyone mature enough to watch it, if you do choose to watch Martyrs, be prepared as it is a brutal film that can be very hard to watch at times as it explores the absolute worst in human emotion. Utterly believable, provocative and ultimately tragic, Martyrs is one of the most unforgettable films you’ll ever witness.