Writer: Mark L. Smith
Cast: Troian Bellisario, Bailey Noble, Kate Burton
Running time: 86mins
What’s the story: Young girl Lucie escapes a group of torturers and in an orphanage befriends orphan Anna. Ten years later Lucie goes looking for the adults who abused her, taking Anna into a nightmarish world of violence and madness.
What’s the verdict: Producing a “meh” remake of a film that saw members of the horror hungry FrightFest crowd losing their lunch, plus multiple walkouts at the official press screening really is some kind of achievement.
But, directors Kevin and Michael Goetz (whose sole previous outing was the little seen Wrecked) achieve maximum shruggage with their reimagining of Pascal Laugier’s 2008 original, one of the most ferocious movies of the past ten years and a five star example of horror cinema.
The basic plot is retained, but this Martyrs falls into the trap of all sub-par horror remakes, coming across like a pub retelling of the original by someone who loved that movie but cannot explain what made it so special.
And the problem with Martyrs is you either go all the way or go home. But, if you go all the way you’ll have a film way too strong for the casual Saturday night Blumhouse horror fan (Blumhouse are a co-producer here), and if you dilute the original you still have a restrictive 18 certificate, plus the inherent preposterousness of the central story laid bare.
To work Martyrs needs an unflinching eye coolly recording the horror, plus the melancholic atmosphere and dank atmosphere of insanity captured so well by Laugier.
Screenwriter Mark L. Smith (bizarrely also the writer on The Revenant) attempts to remix the original’s plot to introduce some invention, but his pedestrian reworking of horror tropes (a midnight chase through a nearby cornfield, a horrific wraith carried over from the original neatly explained away) do little to hold the attention.
Bellisario and Noble, Pretty Little Liars and True Blood alumnus respectively, make a decent fist as Lucie and Anna, but like everything else lack the rawness required.
Not worth suffering through, and can no-one do anything silly like having a stab at the equally five star French shocker Inside.