French horror hit ‘Martyrs’ will undergo an American exorcism


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EXCLUSIVE: Cineastes and hardcore horror fans are already familiar with the French film ‘Martyrs,’ Pascal Laugier’s dark and violent tale centering on two teenage girls who are not what they appear to be.

Now broader American audiences could become familiar with the movie too.

Producers on the Hollywood remake have just hired a director: Daniel Stamm, the filmmaker behind this summer’s horror hit ‘The Last Exorcism,’ will shape the film for an English-language audience. (Oh, yes, the movie comes from the producers of ‘Twilight.’)


As most horror-crazy types could tell you, Laugier’s 2008 original was a hit in Europe and a cult success here. It tells of Lucie and Anna, orphans who establish a friendship, until one of them inexplicably goes on a murderous rampage to avenge what may or may not have been earlier incidents of child abuse. The movie was well received for not only its stylish tone but its exploration of the themes of guilt and repression.

We’ll have more Tuesday from Stamm, one of the horror world’s up-and-coming stars (he’s also directing the next movie in M. Night Shyamalan’s ‘Night Chronicles’). In the meantime, here’s what he has to say about how ‘Martyrs’ can be translated for a new audience.

‘Martyrs is very nihilistic,’ he told 24 Frames. ‘The American approach [that I’m looking at] would go through all that darkness but then give a glimmer of hope. You don’t have to shoot yourself when it’s over.’

Stamm did dismiss the Internet rumor that Kristen Stewart could be starring in the remake, laughing and quizzically saying that it’s ‘the first time I’ve heard that.’

As for the movie’s story, Stamm says that its appeal lies in how it defies expectations.

‘Every time you think you know where it’s going, it goes somewhere else. It plays on things that are familiar — like two friends who can’t be separated, kind of a Forrest Gump and Jenny situation. But then it takes a turn, and in doing so asks interesting quesitons. ‘If you have a best friend in the world and she goes crazy, how much do you owe this friend to go down with them?’ It’s much more than a horror film.’

— Steven Zeitchik