Men reject their prophets and slay them, but they love their martyrs and honor those whom they have slain.
— Fyodor Dostoyevsky
I'm not even sure where to begin on this one. It's taken me a while to really post on it, because the movie made me think for a while. Wow...it's been a while.
Not too long ago, I thought Funny Games was the scariest movie I've ever seen. If you're a horror fan, watch the original Austrian version. If you're a watch-through-the-fingers type, watch the American version, starring Naomi Watts, Tim Roth and Michael Pitt. Both will elicit equal amounts of horror, depending on your horror experience. The American version is a shot-for-shot remake of the original by the same director, Michael Haneke. It's just scarier for horror fans when you don't know the actors. At least for me.
Part of why I'm writing about this now is the impending U.S. release of Lars von Trier's Antichrist. I've only seen two von Trier films and loved/was emotionally scarred for life by both. If you haven't heard about this movie, it stars Willem DaFoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg, and that's it. Yes, that's THE Charlotte Gainsbourg, originally made famous by the creeptastical duet she did with her father Serge at age 13, "Lemon Incest." And it features a rusty-scissor clitorectomy. Which caused some haughty Cannes attendees to require medical attention.
The horror genre has needed a slap in the throat since Hostel, in my humble opinion. In order, the scariest movies I ever seen were Halloween, The Omen, Rosemary's Baby, The Last House on the Left, The Exorcist, The Changeling, (the George C. Scott one, not the Angie J. one), Hostel, The Ring...and now this.
I watched Martyrs. This is a French horror film that's been getting quite a bit of buzz. On Rotten Tomatoes, it's divided exactly down the middle: 50/50 positive and negative reviews. Some say it's the torture porn disguised as a "higher meaning" thinker. Others say it is brilliant, brutal and groundbreaking.
This is officially the movie that is taking horror to the next level, again, in my humble opinion. No one is terrified by seeing slutty high-schoolers or dopey sorority chicks getting slashed and burned anymore. And because of the never-ending Saw franchise, no one wants to see people who deserve it in general get it in a super-creative way anymore. Now it's all about the higher meaning.
If you're a horror fan, don't click on that Rotten Tomatoes link...actually DON'T READ ANYTHING ABOUT MARTYRS if you haven't seen it.
As a horror-movie aficionado, I can tell you I have never seen anything like this. For a while we were all fascinated with the Japan/Asia horror films. Battle Royale, Ringu, Ju-on, A Tale of Two Sisters, Shutter, Ōdishon, One Missed Call...all good movies (some of which were made into inferior U.S. versions [excepting The Ring, in my humble opinion]) that inspired an uprise in supernatural horror. Now, it's all about the French. I couldn't make it through Man Bites Dog.
But I made it through this, albeit reluctantly, because it was not only completely horrifying, but also completely compelling. What the fuck is going on? Spoilers: it goes from supernatural horror flick to revenge flick to supernatural horror flick to OH MY FUCKING GOD horror flick to existential I-think-I-almost-understand-why flick.
I love violent movies, but this has the most horrifying abuse I've ever seen put on film. As a bleeding heart, it was really hard to make it through...but it's worth it to stick with it. The acting is superb, the story is fantastically intriguing and the horror is most certainly not torture porn. But you don't really know until you reach the very end. Just stick it out, if you can, and you'll be thinking about the movie and its themes for days. It will make you wonder why you watch this stuff and why you like it, and you'll be glad it's only a movie, but you'll still feel really dirty for a long time, if you're like me...and if you're like me, you'll love it. 'cause it's totally smart and brilliant and a horrifying look at human fear.
Now consider that there are currently negotiations going on to make an American version. WHY DOES THIS ALWAYS HAPPEN, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD? Why can't people just let good foreign horror movies be? Once you've seen it, try to imagine it being made with, say, Megan Fox and Jessica Alba in the two lead roles. Completely ridic and depressing.
So I think because I made it through Martyrs, I might be able to finally make it through Man Bites Dog. And I've been told I need to give Cannibal Holocaust a try. Um, OK. I love all you sickos who recommend these movies to me. Watch Martyrs and we'll go from there. Love ya!
P.S. Serious horror fans, don't even bother with Inside (À l'intérieur). Stupid and like a V.C. Andrews novel come to life. Casual horror fans, see it immediately, 'cause it's pretty good! But just not really that scary.