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"Martyrs are exceptional people. They survive pain, they survive total deprivation. They bear all the sins of the earth. They give themselves up. They transcend themselves... they are transfigured."—Mademoiselle
Martyrs is a French-Canadian horror movie starring Morjana Alaoui and Mylène Jampanoï.
The story is about Lucie, a torture victim who escapes from her captors. She's sent to an orphanage where she meets and befriends Anna, a fellow child abuse victim. While the police and the media investigated Lucie's predicament, the perpetrators were never caught, so Anna pledges to help Lucie track them down. 15 years later Lucie sees the faces of her torturers on a mundane newspaper article and seizes the chance to have her revenge.
The film is very graphic, but also contains plenty of psychological horror elements with Lucie's wavering sanity and the villains' motivations.
Martyrs offers examples of:
- And I Must Scream: The tormentor's lips were sewn shut.
- Adults Are Useless: The police and the media.
- Ancient Conspiracy: The torturers.
- Audience Surrogate: Anna.
- Ax Crazy: Lucie.
- Banned in China: Almost got a +18 rating in France.
- Being Tortured Makes You Evil: Lucie is hounded by a fellow torture victim who never forgave her for running away. Who exists only in Lucie's mind and resembles what Lucie would have been had she not escaped.
- Blown Across the Room: Happens right after the father opens the door for Lucie.
- Body Horror: The steel facemask and the "diaper" are stapled into the victim.
- Chunky Salsa Rule: Lucie vs the wife. The second blow is followed by a closeup shot of the skull caving in, and she keeps hammering away for a while.
- Cold-Blooded Torture: The premise of the film and modus operandi of the villains.
- Decoy Protagonist: Anna's the main protagonist, even if the first half of the movie focuses on Lucie.
- Devil in Plain Sight: The torturers act like normal people, and the cellar is very well hidden.
- Driven to Suicide: Lucie and the Big Bad.
- Full-Frontal Assault: Lucie's tormentor is completely nude and covered in scars.
- Foreign Remake: An American remake is planned. Produced by the producer of Twilight, and possibly with Kristen Stewart.
- Go Mad From the Revelation: One interpretation on what happens to the Big Bad.
- Gorn: Plenty, including Anna being skinned alive.
- Kick the Morality Pet: Anna's not sure whether Lucie's really found the real torturers or just slaughtered an innocent family.
- Kick the Son of a Bitch: They really had it coming.
- Medical Horror: The Torture Cellar is quite refined and utilitarian.
- Motive Rant: The Big Bad calmly gives Anna a presentation on what the conspiracy is about and what they want to accomplish.
- Nothing Is Scarier: Lucie's tormentor is initially shown only in glimpses because she doesn't exist.
- Not Quite Dead: The wife.
- Offscreen Afterlife: Only Anna knows for sure.
- Orphanage of Fear: Lucie & Anna get assigned to one.
- Primal Fear: As the torture progresses, the victims are turned into atrophied, feral shells of their former selves.
- Punch Clock Villain: The torturers live like normal people when off-duty.
- Schoolgirl Lesbians: Lucie & Anna.
- Survivor Guilt: Lucie feels guilty about abandoning a fellow victim.
- Through the Eyes of Madness: Just how crazy is Lucie?
- Torture Cellar: The primary setting for the second half of the movie.
- Torture Porn: Averted. There's nothing remotely pornographic about the violence here: it's dull, degrading, and what's not covered up with discretion shots is brutally realistic to the point of not providing any gratification. That, and there's more to the movie than just the act of torture.
- To the Pain: The Big Bad tells Anna exactly what they're going to do and why they do it.
- Tragic Monster: The second torture victim.
- The Un-Reveal: Near the end, Anna whispers something to the Big Bad, and the audience doesn't hear it. The rest of the conspiracy doesn't hear it either, because the Big Bad blows her brains out shorly afterwards.