Study names ‘Martyrs’ Illinois most popular horror movie

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Mylène Jampanoï and Morjana Alaoui in 'Martyrs'

Mylène Jampanoï and Morjana Alaoui in ‘Martyrs’

Divisive, French, and
never-released-in-the-US
‘torture-porn’
scores high
with critics and
Google searchers

A new report published by Comparitech Ltd. says that the most popular horror movie in Illinois is Martyrs, a low-budget French-Canadian production that premiered during the Marché du Film program at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival.

Written and directed by Pascal Laugier, Martyrs is the story of “a young woman’s quest for revenge against the people who kidnapped and tormented her as a child,” according to IMDb. Starring Morjana Alaoui, Mylène Jampanoï, and Catherine Bégin, it is often categorized within the New French Extremity movement, which the film site MUBI describes as a “crossover between sexual decadence, bestial violence, and troubling psychosis.”

 
PASCAL LAUGIER
MARTYRS

 

 
Brutal and nasty
Noting that Martyrs is “a real polarising movie,” Rotten Tomatoes warns viewers, “this Gallic torture-porn is graphic, brutal, nasty and gruesome and not to everyone’s taste.”

But for those who like the film, Martyrs’ excellence is unquestionable. One IMDb review describes it as “ground breaking, brave, stunning, brutal & moving,” and UK Telegraph writer Rebecca Hawke’s calls it “the greatest horror film of the 21st century.”

The Weinstein Co. picked up Martyrs shortly before its initial festival run, but the company never released it in the United States.

One possible reason that it never lit up an American cinema, according to a 2010 article in the AV Club, is a rumor that “Bob Weinstein himself couldn’t make it to the end.”

 
Why Illinois likes ‘Martyrs’
The process used to determine why the Land of Lincoln likes Martyrs so much began with a search of individual films on Google Trends. Titles that scored the highest were designated as the top horror movie for each of America’s 50 states.

In explaining the methodology, Comparitech also notes that the search “omitted any film with comedy as a genre (such as Shaun of the Dead).”

Besides actual popularity, a handful of external factors may have also helped Martyrs’ tendency to show up in search fields. The internet hinted at an American remake starring Kristen Stewart in 2010, the peak of Twilight’s globally popular four-year run. And Blumhouse Productions and The Safran Company actually followed through on the idea, producing a 2015 version that has earned a 7% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a number of “generally unfavorable” reviews on Metacritic.

 
Send your scary film news to Reel Chicago Editor Dan Patton, dan@reelchicago.com.

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