Monday, March 1, 2010

My Year in Disturbing Film: Week 9 - Painful Visions

My year in disturbing film is my weekly column where I devote a few paragraphs to the most fucked up films ever made. Each week I plan on subjecting myself to the most horrific and mentally damaging imagery my mind can handle. I can't promise you this won't be the week I wind up in the hospital...

HERE is a reminder about my rating system for these films

Hmmm so what torment is in store for me this week...

Martyrs - Devine

What is the movie about?
Martyrs takes a couple of interesting turns in the story and plays out like two different films. On the one side we have the beginning of the film where it leads you to believe the story is going to follow a mentally disturbed young girl named lucie who escapes kidnappers as a girl. When she unceremoniously slices her own throat to escape her mental torment the story follows her friend Anna who is then captured by the same people who had kidnapped Lucie so many years ago. she is tortured and beaten in order to provoke a state of ecstasy so she can see what happens after you die, without actually dying. Sounds fun right? This of course brings me to the question you’re dying to have answered…


Is the movie disturbing?
By golly is it. So many terrible things happen in Martyrs that I’m entirely sure if I can remember them all (and I took copious notes). Just reading the above I’ve already told you there’s at least one suicide in the film. We’ll start in the beginning though. We learn at the beginning when Lucie is a little girl she’s tormented by this creature, misshapen and scarred. We next learn that even fifteen years later she’s still being tormented by the creature and soon discover that it’s in her mind. She breaks into a family’s house and murders them with a shotgun; it’s an amazingly brutal scene. Lucie beats the mother’s head in with a hammer, flattening her skull. She’s attacked by the creature again and is sliced multiple times with a razor blade. After about 10 or fifteen minutes of fighting with her imaginary tormentor she takes her own life. The suicide is portrayed with tact though. It clearly shows that Lucie is finally lucid (pun intended) for a moment and realizes the only way to end her pain is to end her life. Sadly this does not make it any easier to watch though.

Lucie rockin a shotgun

When the story shifts to Anna she discovers that the house has a secret basement where women were a woman is being held. She is chained and emaciated. She has a metal visor stapled into her skull with industrial sized staples blocking her vision. She also has barbed wire around her midsection. She is the picture of a tortured and abused woman. The viewers discover that this woman is also suffering from similar visions that are causing her to do harm to herself (we’re told she has visions that insects are crawling on her skin). Her suffering is ended with a bullet to the head.

Imagine THIS in your head for 15 years!

Anna is then chained and it is explained to her what is happening here. The idea is to transform the girls (apparently it works best on young girls) into something more than just themselves. As is explained above they want the girl to transcend the boundaries of the physical being and to see the face of god, so to speak. More specifically to see what it’s like after death and to report back assuming they survive. They don’t have much of a record. In the years they’ve been doing this only four have managed this state and one manages to tell what she saw, yes That one is Anna, but that’s later. Every other girl in the film we only get to see them when they’re at the end of this process and they’re already beaten and destroyed mentally. The most disturbing element is watching Anna going from this very beautiful and lively girl to what she ends up when they’re done with her. She’s quite literally a shell of her former self. The beat her brutally, force feed her and subject her to all sorts of torture and torment. The beatings are shown too graphically, but they’re certainly painful enough to watch. After her last beating she’s left a puffy bruised mess and they strap her into this device and cut off her clothes. They cut away for a minute or two to further along the story and when they return we discover she’s been skinned alive. This single image still haunts me and I watched this movie at least a week before I wrote this review. But we do find out that this apparently has done the trick and she’s achieved the state they have been trying to get out of her and success, she reports back what she’s seen. We’d not privy to this information. A press conference is called to discuss the findings, but it’s never started because the person who was told the information shoots herself in the head. The End. What a brutal way to end a film.

Poor Anna, poor poor Anna

Martyrs is one of the films that will stick with you for a while, even if you’re a more experienced viewer. Some of the things you’re shown don’t leave your head quick. So if I were to say anything it would be this. Make sure you know you’re ready to take in this sort of thing before to start the film because it will mess with you on some level. I loved the film for what it was, but I don’t think I’ll be watching it again any time soon.

5 Skinned Alive girls out of 5

Disturbitude: 10, any film with the amount of torture, beatings and suicides that this film has deserves no less. It’s definitely suggested you follow this up with a lighthearted upbeat comedy. Like this

Next Up: Tetsuo: The Iron Man – A man of (stainless) steel?

P.S. Ouch my brain, glad I survived that one


  1. How many movies do you watch a week dude? Seems like an insane number.


  2. Here's a breakdown of my week

    Monday - Movie mondays, I go to the theater and see a new release. I have movies currently planned well into the new year.
    Tuesday - I watch Lost so I may or may not get any movies watched. At most one.
    Wednesday and Thursday - These are typically my movie watching days. I'll usually plow through 5-6 flicks on these days. Though if offered a night out I will typically accept that over watching flicks
    Friday - I don't usually watch movies on Fridays, but if it's a week that I don't have my kids I may watch a couple.
    Weekends - if i have my kids then I'm stuck watching Wall-E 90 times or if I'm really lucky The Incredibles and if I don't have them I can watch anywhere from 8-15 movies in a weekend. This weekend I happened to watch 7 because I had a lot of catching up to do on some shows I'm watching, so not as much time for movies and I've also been playing a lot of Xbox this week.

    So there you go, a glimpse at what a typical week for me is. sad, right?

    To be honest though, I don't watch nearly as many movies as Tarbosh does, But I write reviews for most everything I watch.