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Not bad at all
As a rare reviewer on IMDb I only decided to comment on this after reading the rather negative posts from others. It ain't half bad - yes there are Saw/Hostel comparisons and it fits rather aptly into the "torture-porn" genre. It seems as though the production staff are fairly new to the game and I don't think they deserve the kind of criticism handed to them by the other (two, at the time of writing) reviews seen here.
Without giving anything away, it's a solid, tense first hour with questionable (but believable, considering the circumstances, and assuming you have an open mind) character development that would have benefited from a less ambitious attempt at a dramatic conclusion and something that's worth a watch for fans of the genre.
SPOILERS - A disturbing journey into the depths of human depravity that will be missed by many
Gurotesuku isn't easy to watch. But today's anesthetized horror generation demand such movies. Flicks like Hostel, Saw and 'insert torture-porn flick of your choice here' have lost their original edge and this has led directors to dream up new and ever more macabre ways to shock and sicken just to stand out from the crowd. The best film I've seen that fits this 'genre' over the last few years is 'Martyrs', and while I wouldn't credit Gurotesuku as being at quite the same level it does seem to achieve something, given appropriate interpretation and invention, that many viewers seem to have missed.
On the face of it this just seems to be an opportunity to torture and maim an innocent couple with very little motivation for engaging the viewer in a story or character development, but as a psychological study of the human mind it is a potentially terrifying hour and a half that, if viewed in the right way, deserves far more credit than it will inevitably get.
The story summarises as thus: a couple venture out on their first date and after getting on fairly well (though it's obvious that the guy has far more affection for the girl) they are knocked-out by an unknown assailant and wake up chained to surgical-style beds where they undergo some extremely horrific torture for what turns out to be quite a legitimate reason (psychologically speaking) by the aforementioned perpetrator. The general point is that the assailant has never known love, and therefore decides to torture those who dare to experience it by finding out how far they are willing to go to protect the subject of their emotions.
What follows, and in particular the 'hospital' scene, is a traumatic roller-coaster of 'would you, wouldn't you' dilemmas that could surely leave anyone who watches the movie asking how far THEY would actually go to protect a loved one. I highlight the hospital scene because it seems quite clear that the aggressor is frustrated at the fact that love could perhaps indeed lead someone to volunteer unthinkable pain onto themselves in order to protect another. And in such a situation, dangling a carrot of hope in front of them, only to whip it away again, would surely be a fitting way to break one's spirit.
The fact that this transgression, and the general tone of the movie, will be missed by many is testament to the fact that American cinema has prepared viewers for a far more linear and character-based analysis than this and engaging the masses in this way will obviously; ultimately lead to a very niche-market appeal.
Despite an annoyingly redundant scene at the end of the film, those who claim to appreciate this category of disturbing cinema, and who are willing (or daring enough) to immerse themselves in the sickening extremities of human nature will be disturbed, horrified and unsettled by Gurotesuku, and considering these three adjectives are arguably the most sought-after by hardcore horror aficionados, it's difficult to argue that it doesn't succeed.
What an experience. I'm a big horror fan and am happy watching and enjoying 'popcorn' slasher movies for what they are but really the genre is crying out for more pictures that truly assault the senses.
The French are particularly adept at painting bleak, unforgiving landscapes as well as thrusting you right into the action but rarely have I experienced anything quite so memorable as Martyrs.
Comparisons will (and have) been drawn with Hostel, Saw, Hellraiser and others but this is really rather misleading. Further comparisons have been drawn with Inside, Frontiers, Funny Games etc. and while slightly more credible in that atmosphere and psychology play a far greater part, none come close to Martyrs.
I'd challenge anyone not to be affected by this movie. It's gory, but you won't laugh. It's shocking, but you won't be able to look away. 24 hours later it's still running through my mind and if I see a better horror movie than this this year, I'll be truly amazed.
As much as I'd love to write more this is most certainly a film you should watch knowing as little as possible. Suffice to say the acting, cinematography, score, atmosphere and unbridled tension combine to create one of the most engaging films in this genre of the last two decades.
Watch it. Recommend it (it won't be easy) and let's hope Martyrs gets the credit it deserves.