By Jerome Reuter
Here we are in 2015, and the remake train keeps on a’ rolling. It seems everything is getting remade, from Plan 9 From Outer Space to Audition. It seems nothing is off limits in this day and age. Earlier last year, it was announced that a remake of Martyrs was in the works. Aside from remaking a film released only a few years earlier in 2008, it was also stated the film would have a more positive ending than the original. As you can imagine, I’m not to thrilled at this prospect.
First of all, Martyrs is a film that set a new standard for horror. Within the first two acts, it successfully shifted themes several times. It combined elements of found footage, home invasion, extreme torture, as well as keeping the audience unaware of what was really happening. Is the bizarre creature real, or is it a manifestation within Lucie’s head? Finally we are made aware of the purpose behind the acts of torture, that have a metaphysical purpose. They exist to obtain knowledge of what lies beyond the physical world. The film asked the question of how far would someone be willing to go to obtain this knowledge. Not only to obtain it, but obtain it at the expense of someone else’s suffering.
Pascal Laugier’s tour-de-force remains one of the most thought provoking films I’ve ever seen. I don’t only consider it a good horror film, I consider it a good film in general. Successfully following one of the key rules of film storytelling: “Feel it first, think about it second.” (As any first year film student will tell you.) Upon my first viewing, I had the themes of this one on my mind for several days afterwards. Which is one of the many things that made it so great, it made you think. It weaved its’ way into your subconsciousness, and didn’t let go for a second.
Why is a remake out of the question in my eyes? I believe it all goes back to they typical American film audience, and their inability to deal with an unhappy resolution. This is without a doubt, one of my largest pet peeves. Horror films that disturb the human psyche are important, you need to be taken out of your comfort zone from time to time. The world is not a happy place, and often times films can reflect that. It’s one thing to live in a fairy tale world where nothing bad happens, and everyone has a house with a white picket fence. Films such this one, as well as Irreversible show us how despicable reality is.
The original version of Martyrs not only pushed the boundaries, it destroyed them. Attempting to make a ‘viewer friendly’ version of this film, completely contradicts what original version set out to do. Unfortunately, this is not the first, and it won’t be the last time this happens.