On the other extreme, you have Martyrs. A movie that, if glanced at quickly, could be written off as a kind of Serbian Film type torture porn/exploitation movie, yet it is anything but.
This is a movie that dares to use violence to ask philosophical questions to its audience. Martyrs will fuck you up, as it is relentlessly bleak and gory. But in the same breath, Martyrs is fucking brilliant. Any movie that can use torture porn as the bridge to existential and spiritual debates can’t be called anything BUT brilliant. Keep in mind, it will fuck you up, though. It really, really will.
Martyrs is a French film that can be hard to explain to people without utterly ruining it. I suppose, in essence, it is about a group of elites who believe that nirvana can be reached by methods of extreme torture and duress. They look to prove the existence of a higher being by torturing the humanity out of young girls (yes, girls only, which they sort of explain at one point) until they are so stripped and broken that they reach actualization (basically, enlightenment through pain). It should also be said the first fifteen minutes of the movie sets a strange tone, and that tone changes quickly. You think things are going one way, then the film does a complete 180 on you.
Suffice it to say, a rather stunning young woman spends a majority of the movie being tortured in ways you would have never imagined. From feeding her slop to beating her until she is unconscious, then waking her up to do it over and over, it is a brutal trial by fire, and one that is bound to fuck you up.
But then we get that ending. That genius, twisted ending, and it changes everything. But regardless, this is a movie that sits with you long after you watch it.