Martyrs (2008): Pushing Boundaries and Challenging Viewers

For me, horror is about pushing boundaries. I’ve always wanted to see how much I could take, visually and mentally. When I was younger, I watched horror films with the sole purpose of being scared. I wanted to see how long I could keep my eyes on the screen before looking away. Now that I’m older, I’m watching horror films to see just how much I can push my mental boundaries. That’s why Pascal Laugier’s 2008 film, Martyrs, is my favorite horror film.

Not many films have made me think as much as Martyrs has. I wasn’t only pondering what was happening on screen, but I was also thinking about much deeper issues. Martyrs is a film grounded in nihilist philosophy, and it can be tough to swallow. It is a film that made me think about life and death, and if there is really anything waiting for us after we die. Life and death, what happens after death; these are some of life’s biggest questions. It’s a soul-crushing film, and ultimately, it’s that same nihilist philosophy that makes it so effective.

Martyrs is a difficult film to watch, and that’s without even touching on the violence of the film yet. Unlike some other films that rely on torture or extreme gore, Martyrs manages to make the film more about the suffering of the victim, rather than the actual torture. There’s a lot of implied violence, but sometimes what we can’t see is far more frightening than what we do see. That’s not to say, though, that what we do see is easy to watch.

Morjana Alaoui as Anna

The New French Extremity films are some of my favorite horror movies. They all manage to push boundaries and test limits, but Martyrs stands above them all. I want to be uncomfortable during horror films, and nothing makes me feel that way like MartyrsI highly recommend it, especially if you haven’t gotten a chance to explore any other New French Extremity films.

About Matt Stumpf

My name's Matt, and I love all things horror. Books, movies, video games; you name it, I like it. Martyrs is my favorite horror film, and everyone should watch it. I also have a soft-spot for those cheesy 80's slashers. I'm still slightly convinced that Faces of Death is real.

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