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How much pain can you take?

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Mark Kermode | 15:00 UK time, Monday, 30 March 2009

For the first time since David Lynch did it to me several years ago, French director Pascal Laugier left me unsure whether or not to stay to the end of his movie, the relentless torturecore nightmare that is Martyrs.

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  • Comment number 1.

    Since you don't like films that feature actual cruelty to animals does that mean you would of walked out of Cannibal Holocaust?

  • Comment number 2.

    ... now you know after seeing you talk about it... i HAVE to go and see it..

  • Comment number 3.

    I'd argue that Hostel was trying to be about something as well - it's just that Eli Roth's not quite enough of a talented filmmaker yet to successfully explore it. But certainly the first half of the film, before the torture and violence creeps in, is scarier and more interesting than what comes after, as is the scene with the American businessman.

    Anyway, as culturally relevant as it may or may not be, surely the whole torture thing's been played out more than enough by now - when can we have a resurgence in gross, gloppy 18-rated monster movies, please?

  • Comment number 4.

    I liked Hostel, it was stupid and empty but it was very enjoyable fluff and it was nice to see a nasty horror film for once.

    Martyrs looks very good.

  • Comment number 5.

    I'm really not at all interesting in seeing movies in which the key activity is people being intentionally cruel.

    I believe that there is a significant difference between the cathartic role of being frightened through horror, and the effect of depictions of extended and explicit infliction of physical or psychological pain. The former helps us to connect more fully to our shared humanity, but for most people the latter has a dehumanising effect, diminishing empathy and encouraging a tendency to relate to others not as people but as objects.

    Just to be clear, I'm not suggesting that there is no place at all for the depiction of cruelty in movies. There are many films in which it's role is key in depicting just such dehumanisation in the characters involved - many movies about war and the holocaust come to mind.

    Horror should provide a safe outlet for our anxieties - and there are plenty of those around right now. I'm tempted to argue that many of the issues are rooted in the problem of evil in a monotheistic paradigm, which leads to shadow projection rather than integration and transformation - but that would doubtless have me exiled to Pseud's Corner.

    As Kurtz says towards the end of Apocalypse Now "It's impossible for words to describe what is is necessary, to those who do not know what 'horror' means."

  • Comment number 6.

    I'm not a fan of horror movies - it's all to do with being shown a video of open-heart surgery in a science lesson when I was 14 - so I'll be giving this a miss. However I remain infinitely curious and so have just read the plot synopsis on the IMDB.


    It does seem to be about something though. And at least it's not putting graphic images of unpleasantness over the sides of buses or motorways, which I always consider a plus. God knows there's enough nastiness in everyday life without being confronted with someone wearing a skin mask of another man's face when you're getting on the 8.10 to Friern Barnet.

  • Comment number 7.

    i'd feel so silly if i'd walked out of blue velvet and would later have to admit that it's amazing, it's one of a few films that i came out of thinking 'that is one of the best films i've ever seen' straight off.

  • Comment number 8.

    Dr. K.

    It's great that you have a rule not to walk out of the cinema during a film. I have the same rule and will stay to the end of any film I watch no matter how gruesome or just plain god awful the film is.

    The only film that I have even come close to walking out of was the Gasper Noe film Irreversible. Tell me, can anything be as psychologically damaging as the first twenty minutes of that movie?

  • Comment number 9.

    I recently got to see this film and was blown away by it. I gave up on horror a long long time ago when all the teen slasher remakes started appearing but just recently have been showing an interest in foreign film and in particular foreign horror. I came across this and not knowing anything about it decided to give it a go after reading decent reviews on IMDB. I totally agree with Mark's take on it, extremely difficult to watch, and the pain subject is definately right and i think the director has got it spot on when he says its about pain. the film kept me riveted right to the end and guessing as to what it was actually about. from the beginning it is relentless.I refuse to watch films like Saw or Hostel as i feel they are just trying to hard to shock, that is their prime reason for the making of the films, But Martyrs does have a reason for what is going on. it all becomes clear at the end. This was the perfect film to introduce me back into the Horror genre.

  • Comment number 10.

    You are my favourite movie critic in the world Mark and I know you are an expert in horror fiction with a PhD in the subject, no less.

    However that said, aren't we getting a bit carried away here? As soon as a movie has some grotesque violence in it it seems it's not quite trash to you despite it clearly being so.

    Hostel was said to be empty yet not awful when it was one of the worst excuses to blow a few million dollars on a crew 'n' celluloid ever. Similarly this pap is said to be "about something"; that something being a cheap emotional engagement at the beginning so Laugier can then engross in his sadistic fantasies. Wow! Really stepping it up from the emptiness of Hostel aren't you Pascal?

  • Comment number 11.

    The closest I got to leaving the cinema was when I went to see Roland Emerich's Godzilla but I didn't have the guts to cut my losses and leave. However I have stopped watching two films I rented.

    The first was the Piano. I simply had to stop half way through because I could actually feel my will to live draining out of me.

    The second film was Requiem for a Dream. It was just nasty and there appeared to be nothing redeeming about it. It just seemed to try to shock just for the sake of it. I had to stop it half way through, I just thought it wasn't worth it.

    However after seeing the Wrestler, I'd be willing to give Requiem another go. But the Piano? Never in a million years! Requiem may have been nasty and grim but it is still preferable to comatose inducing Piano.

  • Comment number 12.

    I think that someone just said "apsolute nothingness of everything"

  • Comment number 13.

    ......this is definitely not one you should confuse with the comedy about fast food!

  • Comment number 14.

    I am first and foremost a fan of great movies. I love great horror movies.

    For many, the problem with the genre is that great horror movies need to transport you to dark and awful places.

    The problem for me and all to often the director believes that gore and screaming is an adequate substitute for lazy screen writing.

    The problem with your post, Mark, is that I now have to see Martyrs.

    So, what's for dessert?

  • Comment number 15.

    I do love the good doctor, but I have to admit it does make me giggle when mark starts a sentence with "famously.." and then goes onto something that happened in his life.

  • Comment number 16.

    I was in a screening of 'Mum and Dad' and a few people walked out midway through.

    Recent films have rarely made my look away but an exception would be the nailing scene in 'The Passion of the Christ' (the facial reactions etc.) and I winced at some of the shots near the end of 'Hunger'.

  • Comment number 17.

    Hi Dr Mark,

    On this subject, isn't the point of all art to challenge and test the viewer, listener or reader.

    And in saying that, hasn't each person got their own threshold, which makes any art form, by its nature subjective?

    Which makes it difficult to say when they, the artist, has gone too far.

    Mind you, I've seen some films where the plot has left before I have.

  • Comment number 18.

    Perhaps it's just the recent death of composer Maurice Jarre, but Eyes Without a Face kept creeping into my mind when watching Martyrs. That and Suspiria. I was surprised at the numerous twists and turns it took, second-guessing a lot of generic tropes and turning into something really quite unexpected in its last few reels. I'm not sure whether I completely buy into what it's trying to communicate, but then again neither do I for The Virgin Spring and that's still a remarkable film. Worth a watch, for those who can take the likes of Irreversible and Salo.

  • Comment number 19.

    Mark, I'm an avid fan of your reviews and will regularly agree with you opinions on a range of movies, good and bad.

    But with Martyrs you are completely off the mark. Firstly (and I say this as someone who has watched no torture movies and is rather reluctant to seeing strong violence in films) it is isn't scary or that shocking. The opening third rolls along with plenty of nods to well trodded modern multiplex Hollywood horror, while the focal torture bit becomes very boring after a while and almost amusing with needless "nasty washing of someone with a sponge".

    The meaning behind the movie is the usual scetchy psuedo-intellectual nonsense usually found in poor horror/fantasy works with a mad genius coming with buzzwords about transcendance, transfiguration and martyrdom.

    The actual ending is a real let down with a suggestion that an incredible message is about to be told to people when the filmmaker gets cold feet with an embarassing conclusion.

    The only reason I didn't walk out was because I went with a couple of people who I don't know that well and I didn't want to disrespect them by leaving. But both of them thought it was equally bad, so it isn't just me.

  • Comment number 20.

    The last film I walked out of was "Synecdoche, NY". Phillip Seymour Hoffman seems to be on his last legs for at least half the movie and I kept gathering my things together because I was convinced he was going to snuff it this time and the film seems to shrink from a promising start with some interesting ideas right down to nothing but still keeps staggering along. In the end I thought if I stayed any longer I was going to be the one that was going to die so, I left.

    One film I wanted to walk out of but couldnt was Natural Born Killers. I found the abusive father-daughter relationship protrayed as a game show rather distasteful as well as the general apparent glamourization of violence but something kept me watching to the end. Other than that I cant think of a film that has shocked me so much that I felt I wanted to leave. Boxing Helena was more bad than shocking and I've just about wiped that from my memory so I cant remember if I walked out or not.

    A film that I really had to force myself to sit through was "Push". Easily the worst film I have seen in several years. The plot is so bad and you really cant care less about any of the characters, some of who can see into the future and keep whining about the fact that they are going to do die unless the ensemble can do something to change events. It picks up ever so slightly towards the end and I was able to make it through. But you sit there thinking "God, anything, ANYTHING has got to be better than sitting here watching this".

  • Comment number 21.

    I don't know if Hostel was about nothing. I thought the role reversal that takes place at the end interesting and well done.

    A far more vacuous film was "Saw". After seeing the first one I knew I didn't ever need to see any of the sequels.

    "Seinfeld", the most successful TV show ever, was famously (!) "about nothing".

  • Comment number 22.

    I agree it is bad form to walk out of a screening but I just had to for the horrors that are Quiz Show (Robert Redford - such a dull film) and Last Man Standing (Bruce Willis one - pointless nonsense). I wanted to walk out of Audition but spent the eyes/needles scenes with my head under my coat instead. Plus the Director Takashi Miike was there and said in his introduction he expected half of us to walk out, so I wanted to prove him wrong. Plus I sort of liked the film, in a horrible way.

  • Comment number 23.

    I forgot about Audition, really wanted to walk out of that one. It started off really well but then it just became an endurance test.

    I really don't have as much of a problem with Hostel than I do with the Saw films. Hostel has its merits.

    Quiz Show is a great film and I liked Last Man Standing.

    But the ultimate endurance test which I barely passed has to be Russian Ark. I went with 6 other friends, and noticed that all 6 at some stage or another fell asleep.

    So I made sure to stay awake so I could brag a bit to the others. But boy did I want it to end fast. In retropsect I should have joined the others and had some shut eye.

  • Comment number 24.

    Mark, have you seen Aexandre Bustillo's 'À l'intérieur'? It's another deliciosly nasty piece of french cinema. Are the french taking the lead when it comes to fresh, downright unpleasant modern day horror, or is it simply a sign that as a nation they are slightly disturbed?

  • Comment number 25.

    i am watching it tonight.
    Thanks for this short overview...
    I know the film is rather a milestone in violence, especially in France as past all of France's most horrific additions to violent cinema, this is its first ever 18 certificate.

  • Comment number 26.

    zombies - it's not France's first ever 18 certificate... though they are extremely rare. Saw 3 was given one apparently. Unless you mean it's the first French film to be given an 18 certificate in France? In which case I don't know.

  • Comment number 27.

    I'm irritated that no cinemas within miles of me are showing Martyrs. Because it seems a film like it needs to be in the flotation-tank of a cinema.

    Irreversible was the only time I've come close to turning a film off, but not due to the violence, just because of the low-frequency sound in the background of the first half hour, intentionally set at the right pitch to induce nausea.

    I got a headache but finished the film; very worthwhile, if rivalling Last House On The Left in the unpleasant stakes.

  • Comment number 28.

    i JUST watched Martyrs; and it was incredible. FAR beyond what i expected.

    Now first i will say i didn't dislike Hostel; but it was one of the biggest disappointments of my life in that i felt its only aim as a movie was to be violent, as Roth simply hasn't got the talent (it seems) to portray anything more than that, and in this sense he failed.
    Martyrs however was as cruel and grisly as they come and had a very slight, but noticeable, b-movie feel about it at times in that it wasn't diluted by Hollywood quality producing.
    The film started out as a rampage; fast paced and ferociously brutal. Yet there were factors (the visions/hallucinations) that did give off a rather cliched horror feel. Yet the brutality did steer it clear of seeming too average. Yet as the film reached about half way through, it absolutely exploded as the story seemed to have reached a point in which most films would finish. It suddenly gained new twists, one that far surpassed the predictability of Hostel and everything from here till the ending was of sustained cinematic violence in its purest possible form in modern cinema, leading to a rather intriguing, yet very minimalist, ending.

  • Comment number 29.

    And as a retort to a previous comment on mine. It is the first film to be given a certificate 18 IN France, but surely not outside.
    I cannot imagine films like Irreversible and High Tension gaining 15s.

  • Comment number 30.

    Oh and about the whole 'it has meaning' thing.
    Although without going further than 'nothingness', i am scared of giving away the films ending in anything more detailed...
    But in my opinion it was very open ended and along these lines the films 'meaning' could be anything from nothingness to the infinitude of nothingness.
    A difficult topic, yet one i wish to hear your concluding opinion on one day.
    - Kieren

  • Comment number 31.

    Dr K,
    I'm not sure if seeing this is an experience i want to impose on myself. I love horror movies, but i like them with monsters, or demons and suchlike, movies about redemption and forgiveness and pain and suffering and, finally, some sort of release. But the recent splurge of movies simply about people inflicting huge amounts of pain on others just seems so very bleak.

    In response to others, I thought Quiz Show was good too, but Last Man Standing was truly terrible. However, the one film above all others that in recent years has really angered me the most... Man On Fire. Movie making by the lowest common denominator.

    Lastly, not sure if i should post this here as it's completely unrelated, but i recently sent Dr K a dvd of the new battlestar galactica tv series which is fantastic. i sent it to five live about six weeks ago. Did he get it?

  • Comment number 32.

    I'd be interested to know what you mean when you say the film is about 'transcendence' (esp. since the clips made it look so terrifying there's no way I'm going to see it!). My dictionary has about five or six definitions of the term. If you mean the most familiar connotation - that it is about things beyond the range of normal human experience, well, that's not necessarily a vindication of all that suffering. Say the transcendence lies in the fact that 'almost no-one has ever suffered that much' or even 'No-one could possibly suffer that much'. Why is that something we want to learn about? What valuable lesson does it have to teach us? Are you assuming that experiencing something transcendent is always or is necessarily valuable? That assumption looks dubious.

  • Comment number 33.

    ''I found the abusive father-daughter relationship protrayed as a game show rather distasteful ''

    (about Natural Born Killers)

    wow, that is one of the segments i always list as one of my favorites.. even if its in a movie i don't really care for

    that scene alone makes the movie worth watching

  • Comment number 34.

    Hang on, you wouldn't leave if there were ACTUAL cruelty towards adults? Only animals or children?

  • Comment number 35.

    'Seems France is entering the world of horror at the moment with quiet a brutal blast; with films like this one, High Tension and Frontier[s]

  • Comment number 36.

    Would a repeat viewing of Martyrs be too intense for you doctor?

  • Comment number 37.

    "Hang on, you wouldn't leave if there were ACTUAL cruelty towards adults? Only animals or children?"

    Well, I wouldn't presume to talk for Mark but I think the distinction he might be drawing is that adults would normally have autonomy and animals and children never do.

    ["'I found the abusive father-daughter relationship protrayed as a game show rather distasteful ''

    (about Natural Born Killers)

    wow, that is one of the segments i always list as one of my favorites.. even if its in a movie i don't really care for"]

    I am surprised that you would be surprised that some people would find this offensive. I am also curious what it is you like about this scene. I don't believe it is an accurate depiction of public mores at the time the film is referring to. In other words that there was or has ever been a tolerance or even a voyeurism fascination of the general public with the subject of abuse as is suggested by putting it in the context of a sit com with audience laughter.

    It happens early on in the film. I really knew very little about the film before I went in; not even that it was supposed to be satire. Even so, I think the message that Stone is giving is not very clear. Perhaps not as clear as it should be. Wikipedia lists 14 instances of copycat crimes by people (often runaway lovers on a killing spree or children killing parents) where there is evidence they were influenced by this film. Obviously some people did not understand what Stone was saying. Some of them may have been mentally ill but that is quite a high number to dismiss any responsibility of this film being the trigger.
    In his defence Stone cites his first amendment right of free speech. He also said that people are "free not to watch the movie OR FREE TO WALK OUT".

    I am with him on the last point.
    I can understand Mark has a professional reason to sit through any movie but as a paying movie-goer, I have no contract with the filmmaker. I have a reasonable expectation to be entertained and a reasonable expectation of what form that entertainment will take based on what I know about the movie beforehand. This talk of, "Oh, it's bad form to walk out of a movie" is just tosh. Of course, I would expect anybody leaving a movie to do so without disrupting anybody else.

  • Comment number 38.

    zombies - still don't understand what you're trying to say. There have been 18 rated films in France before, they're much rarer than here, but Martyrs is not the first by any means.

    antimode - we're veering off the main topic here, but while I would agree that Natural Born Killers is a rubbish film, and that the sitcom scene is a case of Stone trying to do something 'clever' and not really thinking about what he is saying with it, I have to take you up on the subject of copycat killings. I actually was reading the BBFC report on NBK the other day:

    They pretty much came to the conclusion that none of the supposed 'copycat' cases could be linked to the film, and state that "The idea that ordinary people had been turned into killers by being exposed to a particular film was not one with which the FBI or local police forces in America had any sympathy". The connections are generally made by tabloids looking for a story.

  • Comment number 39.

    Thanks for the link, liquidcow

  • Comment number 40.

    liquidcow, I just noticed that report was dated December 1994 and quite a few cases have occurred since then including the famous case where a friend of John Grisham the author was murdered leading to a law suit, which was unsuccessful but a bit more than a tabloid story.

    Anyway I hope you, the BBFC and the FBI were right.

    End of side track

  • Comment number 41.

    My mistake LiquidCow.
    But maybe we were both wrong?
    These are not my words obviously:
    "The film received an 18+ rating in France (unsuitable for children under 18 or forbidden in cinemas for under 18s) which the producers of the film appealed. The French Society of Film Directors (SRF) have also asked the Ministry of Culture to re-examine the decision remarking that this is the first time a French genre film has been threatened with such a rating. The Union of Film Journalists has adopted the same position as the SRF, claiming censorship.

    The appeal succeeded and the film ended up with a 16+ rating in France."

  • Comment number 42.

    I was 'lucky' enough to see Martyrs a few months back at a press screening in Sheffield and my experience of watching it was pretty much identical to that of the good Doctor's. There were several times during the final third that I had to forcibly prevent myself from leaving the cinema, partly because there were only two other critics in the cinema with me and if I left before them then I would lose face.

    The main reason why I didn't leave, though, is that I have long held the belief that you cannot offer an opinion on a film unless you have sat down and watched it all the way through, no matter how horrible or uncomfortable or, in the worst cases, boring the film may actually be.

    Martyrs was a rare film that seemed to satisfy all three criteria in its final third, as I went from being horrified, through to squirming, and finally reaching a state of numbed stupor that made the events on screen almost inconsequential.

    Incidentally, I've only ever walked out on two movies in my life; Stargate, starring Kurt Russell, because at one point they started eating 'alien food' and, for whatever reason, that disgusted me so I left and went into a revival screening of Bambi instead, and Crazy/Beautiful, which struck me as so willfully pretentious and self indulgent that I could not stand another over-exposed, desaturated shot of it.

  • Comment number 43.

    Natural Born Killers, Batman Forever and Matrix:Reloaded were all movies I could have walked out of had I not needed a lift home. Irreversible I switched off and returned to later. That is a difficult to take, on so many levels. Also, if you get the chance, the Stan Brakhage short, 'the srt of seeing with ones own eyes' is a barrel of laughs.

  • Comment number 44.

    Hey doc you say you walk out of films with animal cruelty but

    .....what about "Cannibal Holocaust" "Men Behind the sun" or even to a lesser extent "Pink Flamingos"

    Do you have no love for these trash classics?

    Did you walk out of them?

    All feature quite famously animals being hurt for real yet all are great.....what are your view?

  • Comment number 45.

    I recently watched Martyrs and I don't see what all the fuss is about. It was quite intense at times and I squirmed once or twice, but I've seen worse (hell, I've had bad dreams more screwed up than this).
    It is good that this film is actually about something and it certainly expanded my knowledge on suffering and pain.
    It's a good film; nothing to write home about, because I've seen a lot of people giving it 10/10 and the such and saying it's one of the best horror films in a while. It's a good horror film, with something to actually say, but to me, it wasn't very gory, or scary.

  • Comment number 46.

    I saw Martyrs in Dubin's Horrorthon last October and had very mixed feelings about it. The first act was fantastic, genuinely visceral and nasty. The third act that Dr Kermode refers to I am less sure about. Almost unwatchable but also with a payoff that I found uttery silly, completely out of step with the rest of the film - if I were to watch it again i'd turn off after the first act; not because of the objectionabe nature of the torture scenes but beacause none of it lives up to the brilliant beginning.

  • Comment number 47.

    I certainly have the same rule as Dr Kermode about not walking out of movies but mine goes even further than that. It amazes me how many people have a pee break whilst watching a film too. This is something I have only ever done once, and it was during The Phantom Menace. And it wasn't because I was desperate for the loo either. More because I wanted to escape the pure awfulness of it for a few minutes. I still went back in though and watched it through till the end.

    I am always very surprised when people walk out and never come back though. I can recall it happening in showings of Pulp Fiction, Moulin Rouge, American Beauty and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. In fact, the lady I saw walking out of Pulp Fiction shouted that it was sick before she left also. Much to the bemusement of the guy who was with her. The poor sod had to follow her out even though it was clear he wanted to stay!

  • Comment number 48.

    Speaking of movies we've seen people walk out of... (i've never done it myself).

    There are three that stick in my mind. An older couple walking out of L'Orphanata, old woman nearly crying in fright! Lots of people left pans labyrinth when i saw it, around the point where he breaks your mans nose into his face with a bottle. Oh, and my girlfriend at the time walked out of Happines (not Happyness - the two cannot be confused) i stayed to the end. She dumped me.

  • Comment number 49.

    Probably no one will read this now, but I've just seen Martyrs, and I have to say that I was expecting much worse. The final act is hard to watch only in the sense that it's very long and drawn out, the actual content isn't terribly extreme in my opinion (except the one thing that we don't see actually happen). I've seen films that have made me want to look away - and very rarely I have done so - but that wasn't the case with this one. The nastiest stuff, in my opinion, is in the first half of the film.

    Worth watching though. I agree that the ending did seem out of step with the rest of the film, but on the whole it was entertaining in that you never knew where it was headed, and it gave you something to actually think about, rather than films like Saw or Hostel, which pretend to.

  • Comment number 50.

    Re the BBFC's stance on actual animal cruelty. Recently, Uwe Boll's 'Seed' was passed uncut at 18 certificate, despite opening with PETA-obtained footage, of dogs being skinned alive, so a new precedent has been set in that regard.

    It's actually a very decent film, once you get past said opening, and features as brutal a scene I have seen for some time, rivalling Irreversible's fire extinguisher scene.

    My own stance on animal cruelty in film, is that as long as it wasn't filmed, or initiated by the film makers themselves, then it should be allowed.

    Following my criteria:

    Cannibal Holocaust / Ferox, Friday the 13th = bad

    Apocalypse Now, Southern Comfort et al = fine

  • Comment number 51.

    I just watched Cannibal Holocaust for the first time, and had I not watched it at home I would most certainly have walked out at the first sight of animal slaughter. I actually really enjoyed the film as a whole, which made the inclusion of actual animal cruelty even more difficult to wrestle with. This brings me onto the issue of censorship; something I have always been against instinctively, but which in light of Cannibal Holocaust (or "animal holocaust" as I have coined it) I am having to look at very closely. I assume the cut version of the film merely excludes the aforementioned scenes, and I can genuinely say - and for the first (and hopefully last)time I might add - I wish mother Beeb had been there to shield my eyes. I'm a huge horror fan and movie fan in general, and my stance on animal rights can only be decribed as moderate at best, but I'm having a hard time justifying the acts of animal cruelty in Cannibal Holocaust. I don't care frankly if Roberto Rossellini is your mentor, you've read a couple of Andre Bazin papers and have decided that actual violence played next to simulated violence makes the simulated acts more credible, the cruelty towards animals in Cannibal Holocaust is not only morally reprehensible, it's lazy and inherently bad film making.
    I can state with some degree of confidence that here's no artistic merit in slaughtering an animal only for the purpose of recreating the (initially) fictional act of, well slaughtering an animal. Anyone who thinks they can justify this artistically is welcome to reply. It's grim and degrading for all those involved, and to my knowledge many of the actors and crew strongly disagreed ("Perry Pirkanen also cried after filming the "Turtle Scene"), but were in too remote a location (it took a plane followed by boat ride to get there) to really make demands.
    What frustrates me the most is I think Cannibal Holocaust could have been every bit as effective without those scenes. They hold no significance to the story, and quite frankly the sense of surface realsim Deodato wanted to achieve was pretty well established in the "documentary" footage's 16mm hand-welded, unfocused style. That style deserves recognition as I'm sure most would give it, but for all the commendations Deodato should recieve historically speaking, I feel (perhaps wrongly) that any good brought about by Cannibal Holocaust will be forever tainted with the acts of animal cruelty acted within it.
    Since the age of 8 I've been watching horror movies of every degree (really enjoyed Martyrs by the way). However, last night at 26 I saw something defenseless genuinely murdered on screen, not for food, not for self defense, not even for sport, but for entertainment, and I really wished I hadn't. It's simply not what I want (or what I should think anyone expects) from a cinema going experience. I'm genuinely sickened. Having recently read the 1937 act on animal cruelty in films I agree with it whole heartedly, and for once raise a thumb and not a finger to censorship.
    Disagree? have at you!

  • Comment number 52.

    I think that if you are going to see a film because you are reviewing the film then you have to stay. If you are paying money to see a film, then it is your option to stay or leave. Film audience members should go into a film with their eyes open, thats why reviews are generally a good thing. They also need to realise that what they are seeing is only a film, the best example of audience histerier is probably Jaws where people were afraid to go into the water after seeing the film.

    I am not a huge horror fan and generally won't go and see them because I know I don't enjoy being scared or seeing huge amounts of gore or torture. I have the choice to see the film and if I don't want to why go and watch that film in the first place.

    On a slightly different but related note. I have come very close to walking out of several movies generally bad and boring movies. Often which have not been previewed by critics because the studio won't let them. Or sometime when critics get it wrong. I have always stay though just because I have paid money to see them and feel that if I did walk out then I would be waisting my moneys worth.

    5 films I desperately wanted to walk out of:

    Van Helsing
    King Kong
    Trnasformers Revenge of the fallen
    Babylon AD

    What is noticable about all these films is that they are all summer blockbusters they all are rubbish in most cases are way over long and in a couple of cases have awful special effects.

    I then slag off these films to anyone I know and hope that no one goes to see them because I want Holywood to make good films, unfortunatley some people love them (normally demented and slow witted people who like any action film).

  • Comment number 53.

    i watched Martyrs last night, a mate sent me his copy that he didn't want any more to see what i thought of it. this is what i thought the film had to say.
    "Hello, I'm Martyrs. I'm a film that has been deliberately made to shock and disgust you with the pretense of also being arty and philosophical, you know, to make you think about existence and all things eschatological whilst being really very violent for no real reason other than violence sake. Go on, give me a chance because until the torture starts I'm actually a pretty good, tense revenge movie. Once the imprisonment and torture starts though, no amount of pretension or quasi religious philosophising stops me from being that different from Hostel or any of the 34 Saw films they must have made by now. Oh and about my ending, as soon as the experiment is explained you'll sense that approaching from quite a distance over the horizon. I'm not going to appologise for any of this though because I'm part of the French New Wave of Horror so i must be better than the American films that i'm not that different from and ultimately I'm not really about that much at all."

    I preferred Inside 'cause at least i got to see Beatrice Dalle being completely flippin mental...with scissors.

  • Comment number 54.

    Films involving intentional rational cruelty to children inparticular always make me very uncomfortable. Once something has appeared in a film it becomes part of our culture and as such has a tacit acknowledgement that this subject is acceptible. And once it is acceptible in the cause of good art say, then it is acceptible in any cause.

    I could not help but be reminded of DrK's remarks about the OPA which he praises as being subjective rather than a checklist. I worry that there is some sort of horror checklist which says 'this is ok, that's ok' in any cause at all. Not that it's ok if it serves some artistic purpose but that it's ok even if all want to do is observe it for the purposes of tittilation (unlikely I realise).

    The only film I've walked out of so far is the Batman film featuring Chris O'Donnel as Robin. It was bad

  • Comment number 55.

    A very lynchian video blog there doc mark!
    I really want to see Martyrs as I've not seen it yet. I'd say that I find the movies; Von Trier's Antichrist, Haneke's Funny Games and Martyrs (some would add The Devils) resonant with each other. I saw Antichrist at the cinema this summer, and it was the last night and last screening, so more people had turned up, something i hadn't anticipated, but it was interesting to see people's reactions to the onscreen depictions of, self (genital) mutilation, bloody discharge (also the name of a local goth band), self mutilating animals and talking foxes. Some of the audience groaned at certain bits, some turned away, young couples wished they'd never gone to see the film together at all, and some - who looked like film studies teachers - looked to the gods angrily and clenched the arm rests.
    However, I didn't really find Antichrist hard to see through, and found the only cringeworthy bit (to sit through amogst strangers) were the sex scenes at the beginning and the unneeded inclusion of penetration shots (as in Von Trier's The Idiots). However, I was so surprised at how hard it was to watch Funny Games - and it's almost indefinable - and that film is interestingly the scariest movie I've ever seen. Martyrs is a combination of scenarios seen in last house on the left and funny games - so I've heard - but I know Martyrs won't be as hard to sit through as I don't scare so easily and shocks in horror films, I don't scare easily at torture porn, and I don't scare so easily when a vengeance motive-plot is underpinned to claustrophobic torture scenes.


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