Martyrs (film): Wikis


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Directed by Pascal Laugier
Written by Pascal Laugier
Starring Morjana Alaoui
Mylène Jampanoï
Distributed by Canal Horizons (France)
Release date(s) France September 3, 2008
United States April 28, 2009 (DVD)
United Kingdom March 27
Running time 100 mins.
Country  France
Language French
Budget 2.8 million (US$4.36 million)[1]

Martyrs is a French mystery-horror film written and directed by Pascal Laugier. It was first screened during the 2008 Cannes Film Festival at the Marché du Film. The film was released in France publicly on September 3, 2008. The US rights for Martyrs were bought by the Weinstein Company and was released on DVD in April 2009.



The film begins with a young girl, Lucie, as she escapes from a disused abattoir where she has been imprisoned and physically abused for a lengthy period of time. She is then placed in an orphanage, where she is befriended by a young girl named Anna. Anna soon discovers that Lucie is constantly being attacked by a ghoulish "creature."

Fifteen years later, Lucie bursts into a seemingly normal family's home and kills them all, claiming that the two adults of the family were the ones responsible for her childhood trauma. She is periodically attacked by the "creature."

Lucie calls Anna, who comes to the house to help her bury the bodies. Anna discovers the mother is still living and tries to help her escape, but is discovered by Lucie who kills the woman. Having realized her vengeance, the "creature" - in actuality, a psychological manifestation of Lucie's guilt over not being able to save another girl who was also imprisoned and tortured with her all those years ago - drives Lucie to kill herself. As Anna is cleaning up the house, she discovers a secret underground chamber and imprisoned within is a horribly tortured woman. While Anna attempts to care for her, strangers arrive and shoot the woman dead.

Captured by the menacing newcomers, Anna meets their leader, an elderly lady only referred to as Mademoiselle. She explains that she belongs to a secret society seeking to discover the secrets of the afterlife through the creation of "martyrs." Systematic acts of torture are inflicted upon young women in the belief that the extreme pain will result in a transcendental insight into the world beyond this one.

Anna is imprisoned in the chamber and becomes their latest subject. After an unspecified period, during which she is repeatedly beaten and tortured, she is told she has reached the "final stage," where she is then flayed alive. Anna survives the procedure, entering a state that is described as being 'euphoric' and likened to achieving transcendence. Mademoiselle arrives, eager to speak to Anna about her experience. Anna turns to her and whispers.

Members of the society begin gathering at the house to learn of the insights Anna shared with Mademoiselle. The group waits downstairs as Mademoiselle prepares herself to reveal what she was told. A doubting member asks her if what Anna had said was clear and seemed to be accurate. Mademoiselle replies crystal clear and so accurate that once heard you instantly realize it can be no other way. Then she asks the member, "What do you think comes after death?" He replies that he does not know and she in turn replies, "Keep doubting", places a pistol in her mouth and shoots herself. An inter title informs us that "martyr" means "witness".


Director Laugier said that "the film was rejected by all the big French studios, by a lot of actresses, too. (...) The film was really supported by Canal+, the only television channel in France that still finances some unusual projects." He also comments that the main difficulty other than the technical issues such as special effects was to keep the actresses crying all the time, and that was too demanding.[2]


The film was categorized as a new example of new era French horror films akin to Inside with regards to the level of violence it depicts.[2][3] It received mostly positive reviews. Todd Brown at Twitch called it "without a doubt the single most devisive [sic] film to screen in the Cannes Marche Du Film this year",[4] while Ryan Rotten at claims that the film "is the new yard stick against which all forms of extreme genre films should be measured against."[2]

The film received an 18+ rating in France (unsuitable for children under 18 or forbidden in cinemas for under 18s) which the producers of the film appealed.[5][6] The French Society of Film Directors (SRF) have also asked the Ministry of Culture to re-examine the decision remarking that "this is the first time a French genre film has been threatened with such a rating." The Union of Film Journalists has adopted the same position as the SRF, claiming censorship.[7]

Director Pascal Laugier and actresses Morjana Alaoui and Mylène Jampanoï at Ryerson Theatre for a screening of Martyrs


  • Morjana Alaoui — Anna
  • Mylène Jampanoï — Lucie
  • Catherine Bégin — Mademoiselle


Pascal Laugier has confirmed in an interview that he is currently in the middle of negotiating the rights for Martyrs to be remade in America.[8]


External links

See also

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