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Horror Whore: Martyrs and Pontypool

June 4, 2009
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Martyrs and Pontypool

By Shannon

martyrs1Over the weekend I watched Martyrs, a French extreme horror film.   Many extreme horror films like Hostel (which incidentally looks like Peewee’s Playhouse compared to Martyrs) feature hardcore violence just for the sake of it.  There is no purpose, no moral lesson, just gratuitous violence to shock you for the 90 minute running time, and sometimes that is all a horror fan wants.

However, I find it refreshing when a horror movie actually brings up a philosophical question that you can ruminate on for days after the viewing.  One of my favorite movies that fell into this category was the fantastic Frailty (2001) with Bill Paxton portraying  a religious zealot who feels justified murdering “bad people”.  It was thought provoking and smart, just the way I prefer my horror.

The Martyrs DVD has an introduction by director Pascal Laugier in which he practically apologizes for making the movie.  I will say after viewing it that he has some serious balls for filming this, but should not be apologetic. Make no mistake, this is a very difficult movie to watch, but it actually ends up in an interesting place, making it worth while.

The plot of the movie involves Lucie,  a child who escapes a dungeon- like warehouse building where she has been tortured and abused.  Fifteen years after her escape, the memories still haunt her, badly.  Lucie believes she has at long last  located  the people who abused her.  She convinces a girl she grew up with in the orphanage to accompany her to their house to extract her revenge.

The rest of the movie takes some seriously twisted turns, and is one of the most difficult films to watch that I have ever seen.  The ending, however will blow your mind, as it did mine.  It poses some questions about God, religion, the afterlife, and it is awesome.  Throw it in your netflix queue if you are craving something way, way out there. Not for the squeamish. 8/10

pontypooltrailer-1Pontypool is  movie from Canada that is garnering some good buzz.  It all takes place in a radio station in the city of Pontypool, Ontario.  The station’s  overbearing radio personality Grant Mazzy, (a cross between Don Imus and Hugh Laurie) his producer and an intern are working the night shift.  It becomes apparent from some bizarre calls they recieve that something is going horribly wrong outside the building in the city of Pontypool.  Together they  must figure out a way to elude infected zombies roaming outside.  Pontypool is  bit more cerebral than your typical zombie movie. The infection’s mode of transmission is atypical. It’s also a  little campy.  There are only  three central characters in the movie, and it does a good job ratcheting up the suspense with little visceral content.  7/10 Pontypool is available on Time Warner’s IFC in demand.

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