After a full semester of horror films, the only thing you can expect from sir’s selection of movies is that they are…unique. As was the case when we watched, for our final film of the semester, Martyrs (2008), this was a whole new experience right from the very beginning of the film. As the only foreign language film that we’ve watched this semester, I was both skeptical and excited to watch it because for one, I’m taking up French so the agony of having to watch a film in a language that I’ve grown tired of hearing was a bit of a turn off for me; and two, it was the last film of the semester and I had a feeling that we would be ending the sem on a bang with a solid movie, and boy did I get what I was looking for.
The first half of the film basically revolved around the Lucie, a girl who had a pretty traumatizing childhood being raised as a captive in an underground prison to have tests run on her which caused her excruciating pain and psychological trauma. She is haunted by this experience through this psychological demon that causes her to inflict pain on herself as well as going out and looking for who was responsible for her trauma by killing her and her family in cold blood. All while this is happening, the only friend that Lucie has, Anna, must take care of her and clean up her mess which causes her to be more involved than she would want to be.
The second half of the film now centers on Anna and her own imprisonment with this organization whose mission is to find out about the afterlife by torturing and abusing someone to the point where they teeter on the edge of the living world and the world of death. For me the torturing scene somewhat started to drag and became predictable where the scenes would just show Anna being physically abused. I think they could have edited the film to show up until she has the conversation with Lucie in her head that tells her to just give up and let go and from there continue on with the story.
I totally enjoyed this film but I wouldn’t consider it a “horror” movie but rather more as a suspense or thriller following the footsteps of the psychological thriller “Split” (2016). There are so many themes behind this film that if I wanted to (sir I do but…thesis) write about like the friendship and loyalty Anna and Lucie have for each other as well as the survivor’s remorse that Lucie experiences that drives her action that makes this film such an intriguing one and one of my personal favorite from the semester.
However, to apply this film to the readings that we took up in class, I would say that Bridig Cherry’s “Refusing to Refuse to Look: Female Viewers of the Horror Film,” fits perfectly here, specifically in the scenes where Anna is being tortured by this organization in an effort to bring her to “transcendence.” Cherry states that through the female character, the audience relates and sympathizes with her and does not want to see her suffer and go through this pain and torture. We are more turned off to the idea of a woman being abused as compared to a man getting abused due to the preconception that women are weaker than men and cannot take a beating. As much as I wanted to look away while Anna was being beat senseless and tortured to the point of having her skin removed from her body (SPOILERS!!!!), I just couldn’t and Cherry explains the reason for that stating that people refuse to refuse to look because in the end, the film is a pleasure stimulator and find these scenes pleasurable to some extent which is kinda freaky if you think about it. You just want to know, or maybe I just wanted to know, how far these people would go and for what exactly was something I personally just couldn’t stop thinking about so I kept watching even though I did feel somewhat uncomfortable with these scenes.
Overall, this movie appeased my appetite for ending the semester on a high notes and left me wanting more. Especially wanting to know exactly what Anna saw and told the Mademoiselle that caused her to…yeah I won’t spoil this part. One last thing I want to add is just that when sir said that there was a remake with one of the girls from “Pretty Little Liars”, I don’t remember who but hopefully it’s my crush Ashley Benson, I’m going to have to search for it and see if it stacks up with the version we watched in class.