Horror Movie Roundup #4: Brutal Edition (Martyrs, I Spit on Your Grave, Wolf Creek)

Well, this batch of horror films was a little more difficult to digest than the last. Here are my takes on three controversial movies of the genre:

Martyrs [2009]
Martyrs [2009]
One of the most notorious films to come from the New French Extremity movement, Martyrs is not an easy watch by any means. The film follows a young woman who teams up with a friend and goes out for revenge against those who kidnapped and tortured her as a child. Once the two women reach their destination, all hell breaks loose, and it is revealed that this kidnapping was not an isolated event. This transition represents a major tonal shift, almost making it feel as if there are two films in one. What was a pretty solid revenge flick turns into something that is borderline “tortune porn.” Some argue that there is a deeper meaning behind the second half, and there may very well be, but the non-stop abuse isn’t any different than what can be found in Saw and the like. Regardless, this is a film that I won’t be forgetting any time soon, for better or for worse. 6/10

I Spit On Your Grave [1978]
I Spit on Your Grave [1978]
I’m going to come right out and say it: this is the worst film I have ever seen. I’m not being hyperbolic — this “film” is pure garbage. The first 45 minutes or so involve a woman heading to a rural retreat only to be gang-raped multiple times by the same group of men. When they finally leave her behind, she begins to extract bloody revenge on each of them, one-by-one. It’s a basic exploitation plot, but the difference here is that there is absolutely no talent involved in this project. The sickening, graphic rape scenes eventually lead to a handful of ridiculous, poorly conceived revenge kills, and that’s it. Some claim there was some type of feminist agenda to this, but I don’t buy it. This was made for pure shock value, and it features some unbelievably terrible acting. Every now and then I like to test my limits in film, but I could not find one single redeeming value in this. I can’t believe this has a cult following. 1/10

Wolf Creek [2005]
Wolf Creek [2005]
This Australian take on the serial killer subgenre has some real highs, but takes too long to get going. When three backpackers (two British, one Aussie) get stranded in the Australian Outback, they are assisted by a local bushman who is more psychotic than he first appears. Basic serial killer 101, but what sets this apart from others in the genre is the film’s gorgeous cinematography. This uses the Outback beautifully as its backdrop, milking the landscape as often as possible. The main villain is also a charismatic one, but I just wish we had more time to get to know him. The film spends too much time early on showing the backpackers partying and getting wasted, but it never provides much in the way of character depth. Thus, once the madness finally begins, there is little attachment to any of them. The film could have also done more with the concept instead of relying so heavily on the countryside, but it’s still an enjoyable effort for the most part. 6/10

Have you guys seen any of these? What did you think of them?