Anchor Bay Entertainment – 2016
Directed by Kevin Goetz & Michael Goetz
Screenplay by Mark L. Smith
Martyrs is a hard movie for me to review because it has strong performances, super high production values, but the story involves things I didn’t really enjoy watching.
The movie begins with a 10-year old girl named Lucie, who flees from an isolated warehouse where’s she’s been held prisoner. Deeply traumatized, she is consumed with night terrors and taken to an orphanage. At the institution for the parentless children, another young girl her age named Anna, befriends her and helps her start to cope with regular life again.
The movie then jumps forward a decade, where Lucie tracks down the family that tortured her. When she does find them, she calls Anna because she wants her to see the monsters she told her about, are real. But when Anna gets to the house, what she finds repulses her and makes her question the sanity of her friend Lucie.
But then Anna finds a shocking discovery that confirms the truth and this leads to an action packed horrific third of the movie that wasn’t easy to watch, but was done on a powerful level.
I guess the hardest part for me is that I don’t enjoy watching torture. Especially when it comes to children of any age and when it’s girls, that’s even worse. But deep inside the considerable bloodshed, there is s story of love and revenge.
I never saw the original film this movie is obviously based on. What I can tell you about this American version is that it’s directed with both style and substance. I’m certain the movie will find people who will support it.
The two lead actresses Troian Bellisario and Bailey Noble are terrific. This movie would not be any good if they didn’t perform at the level they do. They both come across as not only the characters they are playing, but as kindred souls enduring amazingly difficult lives and grim circumstance.
I thought I recognized the actress playing the wicked leader of the carnage, but couldn’t put my finger on it. Then when I watched the end credits and saw the actress name Kate Burton, it was only then that I realized it was the redhead from John Carpenter’s Big Trouble in Little China. She definitely is a different character in this movie, one whom I’m sure you will learn to detest.
The movie is helped immensely by Sean Odea’s stellar cinematography and Evan Goldman’s appropriate music. I also think the shooting locations, which were done outside Los Angeles looked superb and really added to the film’s quality.
I don’t remember seeing any movies made by The Goetz Brothers before, but this is a true calling card for their talent. They certainly display the right attention to story, characters and action and would not be surprised by where this film leads them to bigger things professionally.
The DVD comes a with a behind the scenes 8-minute documentary piece called MARTYRS: First Look.
I definitely recommend Martyrs but under the condition that you are prepared to get a bit pulverized by what happens on the screen. I’ve heard the original had more torture and violence, so I do give kudos to writer Mark L. Smith and these filmmakers for focusing more on what really matters.