A mainstay for horror aficionados, Screamfest is the annual horror-based film festival that showcases the best up and coming films that the genre has to offer. Celebrating its fifteenth year at the TCL Chinese 6 Theaters, home of the legendary Grauman’s forecourt, the festival is pulling out all the stops to mark the occasion with an art exhibition and an especially power packed selection of films featuring such hits as the Paranormal Activity franchise.
Few, however, can compare to one of the most talked about festival selections which made its world premiere Tuesday night: the remake of 2008 cult sensation Martyrs. Starring Troian Belissario and Bailey Noble as the two protagonists, the film separates itself from its predecessor with a re-imagined plot which transforms it into a suspenseful and thought provoking film that provides the exhilaration and chills that fans crave in their movie going experience.
Martyrs centers around the story of two young women named Lucie and Anna. Lucie, the victim of terrible abuse as a child, meets Anna in an orphanage where the two form a deep, lifelong friendship that carries into adulthood when Lucie tracks down those responsible for her suffering. What follows is a harrowing journey into the depths of human curiosity, and ends with an unexpected climax that is, in its own way, oddly touching.
As a newcomer to the horror genre, I was initially hesitant not out of concern for the picture’s quality, but fearful I would be too deeply affected by the excessive gore and jump-in-your-seat moments that have kept me away from horror movies thus far. Thankfully, my concerns were unfounded: with a compelling script penned by Mark L. Smith, a gorgeous score composed by Evan Goldman, and a tasteful scaling down on the gore that does not take away from the shock and impact of the violence that takes place on screen, every gasp, shriek, and cringe was a delight. Belissario and Noble are powerhouses on screen, breaking hearts throughout the theater with the very real chemistry and a beautifully constructed relationship that is both tragic and endearing. Kate Burton, in her role as the pathological mastermind behind Lucie’s suffering, also delights as a wonderfully sadistic villain. Finished off with the promising young talent of Caitlin Carmichael as another victim of Lucie’s captors, these women round out an all-female main cast that makes Martyrs a breath of fresh air in the male-dominated movie industry.
Shot in a mind-boggling sixteen days, the polish on Martyrs is a testament to the talent of the Goetz brothers, Kevin and Michael, who share a unique synchronicity that shows both off screen and off. The reception prior to the film, as well as the Q&A that came after, showed both men to be not only personable, but deeply passionate about their craft and genuinely devoted to those who helped bring their directorial vision to life, one that is sure to win over fans of the original film as well as secure a brand new audience for their future ventures.
Martyrs is slated for a February 2016 release through Anchor Bay.