Saturday, October 13, 2012
For Columbus: "Martyrs"
So I haven't had the chance to sit down and blog in a few weeks. Meh, life happens. Today begins that "film review" journey I mentioned once before. I know it was requested that I do a film review on the love of my life Zombieland, so I will do that one next. Martyrs has been in my brain nagging me, so...let's start with the beginning.
Martyrs (2008): French film
(from IMDB.com): A young woman's quest for revenge against the people who kidnapped and tormented her as a child leads her and a friend, who is also a victim of child abuse, on a terrifying journey into a living hell of depravity.
The film starts off by showing a girl running in only a torn shirt and underwear-bloody, beaten and hair cut short, out of what seems to be an industrial park. This opening scene alone grabbed my mind and refused to let go-why is she running? Why is she bloody? What happened to her? What's going on?!?! We are shown an interview next which describes the torture and aftermath of her experience. Home videos come next, showing the girl, Lucy, growing up in an orphanage. It is during this that we are introduced to Anna, who is clearly depicted as her best friend. Lucy is depicted as possibly schitzophrenic, as she has wounds and claims she did not do it to herself-yet we are shown haunted-house-like things that will leave you wondering what is, in fact, the truth.
"15 years later." We are now introduced to a seemingly normal family. Their day begins with a conversation about work and school and life in general as they prepare and eat breakfast together. This is where the true terror begins. To give proper detail is to give the end of the film, so....DISCLAIMER: if you have not already seen this film and want to, STOP READING HERE. Lol.
The doorbell rings. Lucy is standing there. Dad opens the door. Lucy blows a hole in him with a shotgun. No words said, no questions asked. The first time I ever saw this film, not knowing this was coming, even I was rattled-and that is a hard accomplishment for any filmmaker to achieve with me. As someone who has seen it all, heard it all, and thought of it all (yes I should have been a filmmaker, you are correct) there isn't much that I can't predict or at least sit through. Anyways, it is here that the children begin to well..freak out, not knowing what happened to their dad until their mother goes to check and is immediately shot as well. Lucy then turns on the children-and yes, it does show her shooting the children. She then uses their phone to call Anna, who has clearly helped Lucy plan the entire massacre. She says she is on her way to the home to get Lucy-but this is where the film becomes interesting again.
As Lucy sits and waits for Anna, we are given the haunting-like happenings again. Again, I found myself asking: is that Lucy's mind, or is this a real haunting???? After a beautifully constructed demon-versus-girl scene, Anna finally shows up. They begin to clean up the aftermath of the murders and Anna is clearly disturbed as Lucy justifies the killings by describing things they did to her during her kidnapping. We move on to another disturbing-demon versus Lucy scene, then flashback scenes of what happened to Lucy, and then we find that Anna has a heart-or so we think for a minute, at least. She discovers that Gabrielle, the mother, isn't actually dead, and attempts to save her, completely against Lucy's wishes. As Anna is attempting to bring Gabrielle to the woods, where she said she would leave her to save her own life, Lucy rounds a corner and "finishes off" Gabrielle. Afterward, Lucy goes insane (okay. no pun intended?) on Anna, and makes it CLEAR that she feels that Anna didn't ever believe Lucy. After Lucy goes off on her tangent, the audience is finally shown that Lucy is, in fact, schitzophrenic as she has what will be her final episode, at the end of which Lucy kills herself by slitting her own throat. (This is where my medical-student brain goes, THAT IS ACTUALLY IMPOSSIBLE, THIS SCENE SUCKS!! Yay science LOL.)
This is where the film becomes-for lack of better terms-COMPLETELY AMAZING!!!! Anna mourns Lucy, and calls her mother-all of this still at the home of the slaughtered family. It is made clear to the audience that Anna's mother is, quite frankly, a bitch. She goes off on Anna about being in love with a woman (assumed to be Lucy). During this phone call, Anna begins to hear a sound within a wall of the home. She opens a cabinet (or maybe a TV stand?) and then travels down the revealed corridor, to what should be the basement of the home but is, instead, what appears to actually be a gallery. There are pictures on the walls of people being tortured and killed, and Anna (stupidly, if you ask me) continues down the hallway to find a ladder and a set of keys that lead further downward underground. She drops the ladder down the second corridor and after (being an idiot and) crawling down, finds a woman that has a metal plate covering her eyes, as well as her pelvic area, and chains on her arms and legs. The woman is clearly starving to death, as she is literally a walking skeleton with skin. She unchains the woman and brings her upstairs, where she then tries to calm and bathe the woman she just "rescued."
Let's skip to the rest of the good stuff shall we? Quick summary: Anna gets kidnapped down into the "gallery" by people who enter the home (they appear to be some sort of agents) and question her about Lucy and her slaughtering. After they are finished burying (very disrespectfully, mind you) the bodies of the family, Lucy and the girl Anna was trying to help (they killed the girl upon entrance), she is briefed by an older woman (who can be assumed to be "the owner" of this entire operation), not only about Lucy, but about creating victims.
"....Lucy's just a victim...like all of the others. It is so easy to create a victim, young lady, so easy. You lock someone in a room with no light; soon, they begin to suffer. Then you feed that suffering. Slowly. Methodically. Systematically, coldly....for a long time. You then witness your subject going through several mental states. Then mental trauma starts to break them....and that small, easily opened crack....makes them see. Things that don't exist in our world...." "People ignore the existance of suffering. That's how our world sees it....yet, everyone's a victim.....martyrs are very rare. A true martyr is a special person. They are exceptional beings; they withstand paralyzing pain, young lady; they can survive total deprivation. They can carry all the sins of the world. It's their sacrifice. They trascend themselves completely, do you understand? They are transfigured." Insert epic list of martyrs here. Insert photographs of dying martyrs here. "Look at her eyes. She was still alive."
Woman leaves. Insert horrible, horrible torture here. (We're talking, this was difficult for even myself to watch at some points. Unlike most films filled with gore...I didn't laugh ONE TIME throughout this film. That says A LOT.) They beat her. They stave her. They cut off her hair. They beat and starve her more. they shave her head. They beat her so badly that she stops fighting back and becomes completely submissive.
"You'll be alright. Your suffering is almost over. There's only one more stage.....the last one. You'll be alright. You won't have to protect yourself ever again. It's okay." Insert surgeon here. Insert creepy surgical room here. Insert being strapped and locked in to the table here. Insert flipping of table here. Now comes probably the worst part of the film in its entireity: insert skinning of Anna here. Yes, that's right. They take ALL of her skin, except the skin on her face. No anesthesia, nothing to put her to sleep. (AGAIN: medical student brain is screaming SHE WOULD HAVE PASSED OUT FROM THE PAIN BY NOW AND DIED BECAUSE HER HEART GAVE OUT BECAUSE IT WAS TOO MUCH TO BEAR!!!!) They leave her strapped in to the table, flip it so she is in a kneeling position, wash up, and go about daily life like nothing ever happened. Woman screams. Phone call is made. "Just now, when I went down to feed her. Maam I couldn't be more certain!! I have never seen such an expression. She's let go; she's completely let go!!!! Her face is like something....maam it's like..her eyes!!!! I swear she no longer sees anything around her!!!! Yes, she's still alive. I'm CERTAIN she is!!!!"
Get ready to be pissed-becase I was!!!! Here is where we enter the older woman from before-the "owner" of the operation. She goes downstairs and looks at Anna. "Have you seen it?! Have you seen the other world?!" Anna whispers something to her. Do we hear it? NOPE!! Meeting is called to the house. This is where, for the first time, we are able to see everyone behind this operation-which, during a speech, is revealed to be a 17 year long operation. It is revealed she is the fourth to reach that stage, and the first to report whatever it is that she saw. "Her state of ecstacy lasted two hours and 15 minutes. This was not a near-death experience. There's no doubt that her martyrdom was authentic." We are told that "Anna is STILL alive, though no longer communicating." Man goes upstairs to get the owner to come down to speak to everyone about what she has learned. Man is speaking to her through the door, and we are watching the woman take off her false eyelashes and her hair extension (yes, just one). She sits down on the tub, asks if he has ever tried to imagine the other world, and then says "keep doubting" as she shoots herself in the head. (Of course this is shown too). We are given the definition of "martyr" and then we see Anna in a catatonic state downstairs. We are shown the home movies from the beginning of the film again as the credits roll.
So there is your detailed synopsis. I threw in a couple of opinions but here is my overall opinion:
This film is fucking amazing. Yes that language was necessary. You go into this film expecting an epic gorefest of murder and revenge, and then the real film begins. The religious undertone in this film-be it Christian or something else, I have yet to really figure that out-not that I have tried....-shapes not only this film, but your mentality. This film is a true piece of ART. You will be left with an amazing view on life, death, trials and tribulations, and even your neighbor. ("Does that family have someone in the basement going through something similar????") You will be left emotional at worst and angry, saddened, horrified, and confused, among other things, at best. Was it worth the hour and a half it lasted? ABSOLUTELY. This film is a must-see and believe me: you will *not* be sorry for spending your time on it. Five stars, people. FIVE STARS. Go see it. NOW!! =]