January 23, 2016

VOD Review: Martyrs (2016)

"No. Just... no."

The announcement of a new Horror remake almost always make us apprehensive, if not flat-out angry. There are many reasons for this that we won't go into now, because we'd be here all day if we did, but mainly it's because most remakes tend to suck; especially when it's a Foreign Horror movie being remade to cater to the U.S. audience.

They seldom work out well.

Our first reaction upon hearing about thus ill-advised remake of Pascal Laugier's excellent Martyrs (2008), was that we knew that it was doomed. Alright, maybe we didn't "know," but how in the world could a remake of such a brutal, powerful movie like that ever be done justice by anyone, let alone a company that churns out cheap, generic movies on the regular, and thinks that it's a good business model? Sorry, Blumhouse, we really like some of your stuff, honestly, but you know it's true.

*If you want to know anything about this movie's plot, please check out our review of the original HERE, because I'm not breaking this one down. No, this is gong to be little more than an angry rant.

Where Martyrs (2008) was a veritable clinic on permeating dread that used intense brutality to illustrate a higher concept that director Pascal Laugier was aiming for, this remake feels like a watered-down Teen Terror flick about pretty girls being chased around the woods by a generic group of bad guys who want to hurt them for one silly-ass reason or another. *And yes, the girls actually get chased through the woods in this one. All three of them. And yes, there are actually three of them.

The 2008 version took our collective breath away, and it fucked with our heads in the best of ways. It was dark, disturbing, nihilistic, and hard to watch... but it was compelling enough to keep us from turning away, even when what we were seeing on screen made us want to run. It was fucking powerful, and even if you didn't like it (lots of people don't), you have to gave it to Pascal Laugier for trying his ass off and going for it.

The original worked so well because it was a well-made movie. Laugier took his time and let the story unfold naturally, letting its characters breathe and evolve into the wretched messes that they became. We felt for them, and by the end of the movie, we felt as worn and abused by watching their journey as they did actually experiencing it.

This remake however has all of the intensity and emotional power of a Direct-to Video Saw knock-off. It's not particularly terrifying, or even scary (unless jump-scares actually work for you), and there's nothing shocking or repulsive about it either. It's violent enough, and its content certainly is nasty, but it feels ordinary and soulless. 

Where are the scenes where Lucie was fed that vomit-looking gruel, and mercilessly beaten until she was at death's door? Instead of Anna finding a genuinely tortured being in the dungeon and trying to help her, she finds a little girl who looks dirty, but unharmed? The skinning scene is all but gone, and the "creature" that haunted Lucie throughout the movie has been reduced to little more than a jump-scare device in this one.

Where is the impact that the original had?

We also don't get to see the horrifying physical and mental ordeal that these people put Anna through in order to make her into a martyr. In fact, it wasn't even Anna who was martyred in this one, but Lucie, who is actually kept alive until the end. Lucie dying in the original was the first step in Anna's destruction, which lead her to her resolution, and by changing that all around for the remake, it lessened the emotional impact of the entire thing. 

None of the martyrdom that these people were trying to get Lucie to achieve felt earned. Anna was shocked (for basically no reason, because it was Lucie who they really wanted to martyr), and Lucie had a small bit of her back skin flayed off and was hung on a cross (in effigy?), and then 5 minutes later, she was "ready." What the actual fuck? THAT was all it took to drive the girl into such a heightened state of consciousness that she could see into the afterlife? She escaped them 10 years ago, randomly stumbles back into their clutches, and then 10 minutes later, she's the one who will finally give them what they seek?

Come the fuck on.

The actors did fine with what they had to work with, especially Troian Bellisario, so we aren't mad at them. Some of the violence and gore was solid too, although there wasn't really much of it. It's also a well-shot movie, and looked far prettier than it should on such a small budget. The real problem here is that the entire movie felt rushed and careless, and made absolutely no effort to build its story, and make us give half a shit about the main characters.

It lacked punch, both emotionally and viscerally, and given the source material that it was culled from, that's just unforgivable. 

Had there never been a movie called Martyrs in 2008, and this was a totally original movie, we could probably go easier on it; its faults would still be present, but we could write it off as just another Horror flick that had some great potential, but just couldn't quite reach it... but there was a movie called Martyrs in 2008, and this isn't an original effort, so its many faults can't be so easily forgiven or overlooked. It had a fantastic template to work from, and it should have been better.

Better yet, Martyrs should have ever been remade. Yeah, that sounds about right.

As bad as Martyrs was, I honestly think that I'm being overly-generous by giving it a grade of D-. It's a mess on just about every level, save maybe for technical, and not only is it a poor remake of an excellent film, but it felt like 100 other movies that came out last year, and 100 others that will no doubt come out this year as well.

Fuck this movie, and go watch the original HERE. Trust us.


Martyrs is available now on VOD.


Troian Bellisario and Bailey Noble are in this.


  1. Screw this movie watch a better recent remake such as Maniac.


  2. I made a review of the movie in my blog and I also gave 1/5. Though Belissario's performance was not as strong as the original actress, she really impressed me (watching Pretty Little Liars, you can tell that she is the best of cast). About the movie, it was garbish. Superficial, cliche and coward. Great review, great blog! A reader from Brazil!

  3. The pulling of the back skin is the only good 30 seconds of the film

  4. I'll have to check this one out just because I wasn't particularly wow'd by the original like most were. I always thought the original started off very well but the latter half sort of fell flat for me though even a picky critic like me must admit that it was definitely a hellish and unique exercise in human depravity. Still, I was kind of hoping that this one would improve the original's weaknesses like the 'The Last House on the Left' and 'I Spit On Your Grave' remakes did.

    Always good to read your reviews. This is probably my favorite horror review site and I am always excited to come here to see if anything new has been posted.

  5. Thanks for saving me $5. I had the gut feeling that it would be utter shit as soon as I saw the Blumhouse name attached to it.

  6. The original was great but I'd still have to see this just to satisfy my curiosity. Haha!

  7. Ah, I'm going to skip this. No need to hurt my eyes and brains. I loved the original and that's it.

  8. When i've found out it was going to be a remake of MARTYRS, i was absolutely sure, it was going to be a great failure. Not because American remakes of Europian or foreign movies, most of the time, suck, but because the original MARTYRS, is an absolute perfection, in all ways. It's brutal, disturbing, ultra violent, has great direction, you feel for the charactes, you witness their whole suffering. So it was obvious the remake would suck and have never been made at all(like SUSPIRIA, which luckily they've cancelled the remake). Some movies, you don't touch them. Let them be they way they are. Cause you destroy them.
    I agree with the author's review. I've watched cause i was curious how it would be. If i have to be realistic, just skip it. But i know curiousity is a bitch, so whoever wants to check it out, just for the shake of it, do it and godspeed!!

  9. Finally go to see this yesterday. In fairness to the effort, the first 20 minutes or so was faithful to the original (as I can recall it) but the latter part was really chaotic and the ending was really corny. The idea to stick with Lucie as "THE" martyr in this version was quite logical (I guess for me) because she was the one who endured a very long history of suffering and pain since she was a kid. But that's the only thing I liked about this movie. Haha! It didn't have the effect that the original gave me especially the "whispering" which really gave me goosebumps in the original film. Also, kept me guessing what's that about. Overall, agree with this review.

  10. Hate me if you like, but hear me out!!!

    The original is in a class all of it's own. HOWEVER!!! Here is the thing, there are a lot of younger kids, and even adults that simply didn't catch the original for a variety of reasons. So I say at least there is a version, however watered down it may seem, that they can watch to get the basic 'jist' of the original. I did watch this remake. The cinematography was well done, IMO, the acting was good, and you know what, the ending didn't leave me wanting to sallow a box of anti-depressants. So to that I say so-the-F-what. There are certain remakes that I do think didn't need to me made, or were done so horribly(REC-Quarantined) that really needed tomatoes thrown at the producers than this flick.

  11. No hate at all, Mike. I get how this movie, on its own or as a remake, can have certain value to some people, especially those who havent seen the original.

    Why even remake a movie like Martyrs though if you're only going to turn it into a Tenn Terror type of flick?

    It's like remaking Casablaca (just as an example)with Channing Tatum and Selena Gomez, and adding dance-offs to the mix.

    1. *Hit post by accident before I was done typing, so sorry for the spelling errors.

      I was going to finish with... It's just not Casablanca anymore.

  12. The cinematography was a HUGE turn off. Not only the shakiness at times, but the amount of close ups was staggering! Did they not know the camera zooms out? Am I the only one that noticed this? Like wtf...

  13. MAN I love ur site hail from egypt
    i recommend
    -mark of the witch [ a,ka, another ]
    -the forest
    bother r great saw em yesterday
    id like to see ur reviess espially for mark of the witch
    go on :)

    1. Thank you, Ahmed!

      Another looks really good, can't wait to see it.
      Saw The Forest, and will be reviewing it soon.