Along with a lot of horror fans, I have no idea what to make of the upcoming Anchor Bay remake of Martyrs. The 2008 film represented the height of the French extreme horror movement of the 2000s and many consider it the best genre film of the young century. Stylistically beautiful, it certainly plumbs depth and thematic material that American mainstream horror films tend to avoid with a ten foot pole.
In the interest of being 100% forthright, I’m not a fan of Martyrs. It starts with a bang, and the first half of the film is a fantastic, brutal and tension filled thriller. Yet the movie is bisected, and the second half left me alienated and uninterested. I can best describe it as “forty five minutes of a captive woman being punched in the face.” If that’s something that appeals to you, mazel tov. I’ve read a number of arguments regarding the thematic implications of the girl’s capture, imprisonment and sacrifice, but none of them have managed to sway me.
I’m not sure what Anchor Bay is trying to accomplish with remaking the film for American audiences. It looks like they are sticking to the popular limited theatrical engagement followed availability across VOD platforms right afterwards. The remake is in the hands of Michael and Kevin Goetz, the brothers behind the thriller Scenic Route. That’s not a bad film, and the violence of it demonstrates the duo should be able to handle the indelicate moments one expects in the new Martyrs. Still, unless I’m missing something obvious, there doesn’t seem to be a reason to remake this film aside from 1) the fact they can and 2) Americans hate subtitles and skipped out on the original. I admit, I’m curious to learn if Anchor Bay would okay something as bleak and downbeat as the end of the French film. It’s the kind of cynical ending that just won’t fly with audiences here.
I thought the trailer might shed some light, but if anything, it looks more grim than the French film. I thought it might be possible the Goetz brothers put their own spin on the material. We saw this in the remake of the Mexican film We Are What We Are. Jim Mickle ran with the core concept but changed the setting, characters and circumstances that drove the plot, and in the process crafted one of the best independent horror films of the decade That doesn’t seem to be the case here, though to be fair, a two minute trailer might not represent everything going on in the film. What it does show, however, seems like a bunch of ways to torture a young woman, and that got old a long time ago.
What say you? Are you excited for this film? It hits theaters January 22nd followed by a VOD release February 2nd.