Martyrs (2015) Review

Martyrs 2016

Starring: Troian Bellisario, Caitlin Carmichael, Kate Burton, Bailey Noble, Toby Huss

Director: Kevin Goetz, Michael Goetz

Writer: Pascal Laugier (characters), Mark L. Smith (screenplay)

Running time: 81 minutes

Rated: None (for violence, language, adult themes)

Reviewed by Michael Juvinall – Horror Society

IN THEATERS & DIGITAL HD: January 22, 2016


I am going to do my best to review Martyrs based on its own merits rather than comparing it too much to its original counterpart. The reason for this is simply that unlessMartyrs8 you’re a die-hard gorehound you probably haven’t seen the original 2008 French-Canadian cult classic Martyrs. Like several other foreign horror films we just can’t seem to leave the originals alone and as American filmmakers, we have to try our hand at remaking them for domestic audiences. Much of the time this effort is wasted, leaving the original source material the better product. Unfortunately, such is the case with the Americanized reimagining of Martyrs. It is a film that should never have been made.

As the film opens, we meet twelve-year-old Lucie who has just escaped from a type of torture chamMartyrs11ber located inside an abandoned warehouse. When the police get to the warehouse it is all cleaned out, leaving no clues as to what transpired there. Lucie is sent to an orphanage where she is befriended by Anna, a girl who tries very hard to break down the walls that Lucie has put up due to her violent and troubled past. But Lucie has been through so much torture both mental and physical, it has left her a shell of her former self.

We then jump to Lucie (Troian Bellisario) ten years later as a young adult, who has spent the last decade trying to locate the people that tortured her, ruining her life. Lucie thinks she has finally found the people responsible for the ghastly deeds and as she approaches their nondescript house located on a farm in the middle of nowhere, she has nefarious intentions for those inside. After Lucie exacts her revenge on the family inside, she calls her one true friend Anna (Bailey Noble) to come help her and together they discover more about this terrible secret than they ever thought imaginable.

This 2015 remake is a slick piece of film making. It looks extremely good and is shot very well. That I believe is its first mistake. It looks too good for a film of such depravity. I would not expect the colors to be so vibrant and hues so bright for a film centering on the subject matter as it does. I would expect more grittiness, something more fitting to the material.Martyrs14

The actors do a wonderful job with what they are given, especially the two leads – Troian Bellisario and Bailey Noble. There is also a fine turn by Kate Burton, the unapologetic leader of the cult. They all turn in inspired performances but are again limited by what they have to work with.

The rest of the technical aspects of the film are more than adequate, editing is fine, as is the lighting. The makeup effects are not bad either, although there isn’t really too much involved, just a couple of gore scenes that aren’t really that gory.

The original Martyrs film is a tour-de-force of unsettling cinema, a kick to the groin that doesn’t let you catch your breath. The graphic gore in the original is like nothing most viewers have ever seen before. This Martyrs is so watered down that I fail to see the point in even attempting to remake it. While the storyline is basically the same aside from a few variations, the tone, look and feel of this remake just doesn’t come close to the original. If you’re not going to include most of the reasons a film is considered a cult classic, then what’s the point of trying to emulate it in a remake?


Martyrs is an uninspired attempt to Americanize something that should’ve been left alone. If you can’t improve upon an original either by making it better or going a different route, then why bother. This film is decent but that’s about it. If you want to see Martyrs the way it should be seen, then go seek out the original foreign version.

Pentagram 2 star ratings 2

2 out of 5 Pentagrams!

Watch the trailer here,

Michael Juvinall

I am a Horror journalist, producer, ravenous Horror fiend, aficionado of the classic Universal Monsters, Hammer Horror, Werewolves, and all things Horror.

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