To cap off the semester, the last movie that we watched was “Martyrs”, a french film was released in 2008. Right off the bat, the thing that sets this film apart from the others that we watched was that it was the only non-english film. In this regard, it suddenly caught my attention because of how this film will be different from all the other American films we watched. Of course for me, it could either go two ways: The film will not meet my expectations, or it will give me a whole different perspective of how I view foreign films. Thankfully, the latter was how I felt towards the film.
The film is about a girl named Lucie, who is a psychotic killer, but at the same time, has this creature haunting her around. The movie has this violent nature around it and definitely resorts to gore and violence as its medium communicate horror to its audience, much like how Evil Dead was. An interesting thing about this movie is that you actually get an idea as to how Lucie became how she is and is emphasized in the movie. You get her backstory to further understand why she became how she is. For me, this left a certain degree of empathy towards the antagonist of the movie. Lucie, being the main source of horror in the movie, is actually experiencing her own kinds of demons, literally and figuratively, that would make her the hunter and as well as haunted. In Brigid Cherry’s article: “Refusing to refuse to look: female viewers of the horror film,” she stated that “Refusing to refuse to look is, for such viewers, an act of affinity with the monster.” This degree of empathy towards Lucie because you get so invested as to what she’s going through and what is she going to do next, and this movie played that off beautifully. It’s so interesting that this movie, Lucie, who is obviously the antagonist, still gets me to try to understand her more, thinking that there might be something more in the picture, something you wouldn’t really think about or give the benefit of a doubt to a person who is a killer.
To get into more of my personal insights towards the film, I would like to touch up on the point of it being a foreign film as one of the main reasons why I was so struck by the film. All throughout the course of the semester, we were exposed to American films, so it dawned upon me that “So this is how Americans make horror films?” Using all the lessons we learned in class, I thought that these things only applied in an American context, but it was truly a pleasant surprise to see that these elements of horror can also be found in Martyrs. I can further extrapolate that there is actually a formula at hand when making a horror film, a certain degree of absoluteness that is the same whoever makes the film, and I find that really interesting. People’s cultures are not the same, people come from one upbringing, but no matter who you are or where you came from, there is this sense of oneness among the people because all of us get scared the same, all of us find the same things horrific, and that’s what makes us human, as weird as that sounds. If everybody from around the world come together and watch a generic horror film, it can be said that they can all be scared the same because as humans, we find the same elements of horror as scary, and this is proven by Martyrs.
Overall, Martyrs is a good way to end the semester. It offered something new to the table, which is common with all the films that we watched, but somehow, in its own philosophical way, connects the dot with things that we have learned throughout the semester.