It's sure been a grand old time jib-jabbering in the comments of my recent 20 Best Films of the 20th Century post. Lists make for lively conversation! They can introduce you to films you've never heard of. Perhaps someone's love of a movie that you hate will make you see it in a new light, will make you give it another chance. Sometimes you can only marvel at a person's garbage taste in movies, and the pure outrage over what they enjoy gets your blood pumping and adds three minutes to your lifespan. Diving into a list you have some sort of personal investment in is like climbing into a rickety-ass car and passing through the double doors that open into a carnival funhouse. You're excited, even though you anticipate that the experience may not be "pleasurable" exactly. You expect a few things that are reliably in every funhouse: loud buzzer noises, a random blast of air in your face, string hanging from the ceiling that gets in your hair and makes you momentarily lose your mind. Then there are the occasional surprises in store for you, like a chance to witness Sylvia Miles giving a handjob to a monstrously deformed young man. Maybe you die before it's all over, or maybe you make it through the set of double doors on the other end of the track, emerging back in the real world a better person, or maybe a worse person, or maybe pretty much the same person you were when you went in. To be honest, I'm not even sure what I'm talking about anymore, or why I thought comparing lists on the internet with carnival funhouses was a good idea to begin with, but here we are.
Anyway, the number one film on my list, Martyrs, is undoubtedly a divisive one. Amongst those who have seen it, feelings tend to run strongly one way or the other–this is not a film you see and shrug when it's over, giving it a "meh". Given its reputation, plenty of folks–even hardcore horror fans–are reluctant to go near it. That reputation is pretty well-deserved, I must say. It's a brutal movie, one that's endured rather than simply watched. It's violent, although in my mind the violence serves the story. Others, however, argue that the "story" is a thin excuse, that it's as useless as any other film in the "torture porn" pantheon. To be honest, I'm surprised by how much I adore–if "adore" is the right word...it's not the right word, probably–Martyrs. I don't need gore and violence in my horror (though they are certainly enjoyable at times). I'm not really into watching victims suffer and/or be tortured. My tastes in the genre are continuously evolving, but at no point in my tenure as a horror fan would I peg something like Martyrs as a soulmate of a movie for me, but again, here we are. It's nihilistic, it's full of love and hope, it's abhorrent, it's beautiful.
But that's just my "give it a million stars out of five" opinion. As I said, it's a most divisive film, so here's an opinion from the other end of the mind spectrum:
There is something about the French and Horror movies. They can't them good. This is the worst movie I have ever watched, and I have watched a million movies. It is a waste of time, blu-ray or the uncut version. Don't waste your life force by watching this crap.
It does not come anywhere near Hostel, which had a sick plot and was interesting.
This film is not even interesting and the viewer is never allowed to share the how and why things are happening.
Now if you just like to young girls tortured, there is no sex, then this is your movie. It sucks
Regarding horror movies, even if you take Martyrs out of the equation, personally I think that the French can them good. But I do agree with the reviewer, girls getting tortured is okay so long as there is sex.