All hope abandon, ye who download this podcast as Steve, Owen, Brooker and Liam invite you into one of their seven circles of Hell for a special religious movies themed triple bill, just in time for Easter.
Three clueless bellends gather for the latest Failed Critics Podcast with hosts Steve Norman and Owen Hughes joined by our long-suffering guest, Paul Field. So long suffering is he, in fact, that he’s hosting this week’s quiz and theming it on injuries, suffering and accidents in movies.
Quite fitting then that this week’s new releases take in: notorious YouTubers (we don’t know what that really means) causing grief in Natural Born Pranksters; bone-breaking British feel-good comedy Eddie the Eagle; pointless gruesome horror remake Martyrs; and the independent horror film putting Martyrs to shame, with Anguish.
There’s also time on this episode for the team to cover a re-watch of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (where Owen gets all ranty about the poor level of criticism on offer for Zack Snyder’s blockbuster), British crime drama Orthodox and sci-fi classic Alien. We even cover the Suicide Squad reshoots and Wolf Creek TV spin-off in our news section.
Join us again next week as the same line-up tackle first-person action thriller Hardcore Henry.
“All her suffering will have been for nothing.”
In 2008, at the height of the torture porn era, the French were in the middle of their own little moment in nasty films. Among such charmers as Irreversible and Baise-moi, horror director Pascal Laugier set loose Martyrs upon the world. A brutal, brutal little number that managed that not only quenched the thirst of even the most bloodthirsty of horror fans, but it was also infinitely smarter and much more meaningful than most would have given it credit for on first look. An amazing little movie, it was easily one of the best horror films of the last few years and is one of those rare ones that sticks with you long after you’ve seen it.
So, what did the Americans do? They took the film, sanitised it, removed all of its nuance and meaning and sold it back to us like a cheap bar selling us watered down beer. In dirty glasses. That they’ve pissed in.
Directed by Kevin and Michael Goetz and written by Mark L. Smithen, Martyrs is set years ago, as Lucie (Troian Bellisario – never heard of her, I think she done an episode of NCIS once) escapes from an isolated warehouse. Tortured and beaten as a child, she suffers from constant waking nightmares caused by the trauma of her childhood ordeals. Now, her only solace comes in the form of her best friend, Anna (Bailey Noble – she was in True Blood long after I quit watching it), and the search for those that captured her all those years ago. But when her search sees her hitting the right track, her and Anna discover the grizzly truth behind Lucie’s kidnapping and what would have awaited her if she hadn’t escaped.
This isn’t a new thing, but the watered down horror remake is starting to wear a little thin with me. The original Martyrs wasn’t just a superbly bloody body-horror film, it had real heart and feeling behind it. Its look into religious ideals and the extreme lengths some can and will go to for their shiny happy feelings was a chilling one that left a very nasty taste in your mouth. Here, with this new one, the only taste left in your mouth is of the shit that’s just been flung at your face for the last hour and a half as the filmmakers make a real effort to remove all intelligence from the film and make it more like a run-of-the-mill teen filled horror.
I mean, the opening few minutes feature a young girl being haunted by this terrifying looking ghost of an old woman; the original film had me on the edge of my seat, biting my nails with tension. This remake basically takes that great little scene, and turns it into an unwashed old woman dancing about the young girls room in the dark; like your nan has had a senior moment and decided your room is actually some weird 40’s dance hall. And she’s naked. No tension whatsoever, but plenty of nightmares I guess.
To talk about the ending to either film would really spoil both, so I’m not going to dig too deep here. But this is where the new Martyrs commits its gravest crime. Those that have seen the 2008 original will shudder just at the thought of the ending. A truly horrific moment of cinema that leaves even the most hardened horror fan shaken and slightly unnerved. A nasty little bit of film that sticks with you long after the movie’s credits have run their course and left you chilled to the bone.
Fast forward to 2016 and we get an ending that you can see coming a mile away because you’ve seen it a thousand times before. As originality and genuine terror are replaced with generic horror tropes and a bland, unimaginative script that’s swapped a desperate search for the answers to the afterlife with an uninspired look at cheap horror 101. The writers and directors seem to have forgotten all about the scenes of just brutal torture that we were subjected to that made us realise just what these people were putting CHILDREN through. They have instead opted for a well-worn and safe road to their finale that simply leaves you bored.
Overall, there’s no reason at all for me to recommend this completely unnecessary and uninspired Martyrs remake. Go watch the original, because it’s much, much better (and a damn sight scarier). This ghastly fucking remake is about as fun as repeatedly treading on an upturned plug barefoot.
The best films each day on free-to-air TV as chosen by Failed Critics contributor Owen Hughes. Expect at least one film featuring either JCVD or zombies.
With the release of the third installment in Marvel’s Iron Man franchise last week (or “this week” if you’re in America) we should be grateful to Film4 for airing the film that started it all. Especially for those of us who don’t own it already on DVD. I mean, I own it. Of course I own it. But the point is, you might not. Therefore, you should definitely take advantage of this opportunity and remind yourself why Marvel are making some of the most successful and enjoyable movies of our time.
Tuesday 30 April – Predator (Film4, 9pm)
As a nod to our founder, James Diamond, I was tempted to recommend the Caravaggio (sorry, “Carl Vaggio”) opera that’s on Sky Arts 2 on Tuesday, but alas, I haven’t seen it to comment. Plus, it’s an opera. Opera is for slack-jawed faggots, not a goddamn sexual tyrannosaurus like Jesse Ventura in the best film you’re likely to find on TV all week. It’s one of my favourite films and, quite frankly, I’m distrustful of anyone who doesn’t enjoy Predator, nevermind has the willpower NOT to watch it whenever they notice it’s on TV.
Wednesday 1 May – In Hell (SyFy, 10pm)
I can hear the groans from here that I’m picking a straight-to-video Jean-Claude Van Damme film as the best film on TV, but trust me, this is one of his best. I’m genuinely not picking it purely because it features the muscles from Brussels! You know that bit in The Dark Knight Rises where Bruce Wayne is in the prison? That’s basically what the whole of this film is like, but with Van Damme instead of Bruce Wayne. It’s brutal, intense and poses some interesting questions on justice and morality. Also, it features JCVD with a full beard. Bet you’re intrigued now, huh!
Thursday 2 May – Public Enemies (ITV4, 10.10pm)
I’m recommending this film blind, but certain it’ll be a popular decision. The best film on TV on Thursday is Michael Mann’s crime drama set in 1930’s America. Probably one of the best decades and places to set a crime drama? Certainly one of the most popular. It stars Johnny Depp, Christian Bale and Marion Cotillard who was discussed quite recently on our birthday podcast. Praised for its aesthetics, the performances from the cast and even its soundtrack, I will certainly be recording, if not watching it, that evening.
Friday 3 May – The Blair Witch Project (horror channel, 10.55pm)
Can you remember the first time you were truly scared by a film? That genuine terror that creeps into your subconscious afterwards as you get up out of the sofa, half expecting some maniac or ghoul to be lurking in the hallway or the top of the stairs, patiently waiting for you? It’s all bollocks, of course. It’s only a film you big sissy. But still, if there’s any film that still puts the willies up me (leave it) then it’s this. Best watched in a dark room, in total silence, late at night (say, around 11pm-ish)…
Saturday 4 May – Martyrs (horror channel, 12.10am)
…and if The Blair Witch Project doesn’t screw with your mind, then let me introduce you to one of the most excruciating watches you’re ever likely to have. The French low-budget horror film, Martyrs, has a reputation that it fully deserves. Gruesome, disturbing, twisted, intelligent, horrific, shocking and uncomfortable are all words that could describe it, but one thing’s for sure; if you’re looking for a film that will violate your mind in the same way certain characters in this movie are physically, then look no further.
Sunday 5 May – The Cannonball Run (5USA, 12pm)
After watching The Blair Witch Project on Friday and Martyrs on Saturday, you’re going to need a bit of light relief! This screwball family comedy featuring the always watchable Burt Reynolds, Dom DeLuise as ‘him’, Roger Moore playing a brilliant spoof of the James Bond/spy archetype, and plenty of other minor supporting roles for Jackie Chan, Sammy Davis Jr and Dean Martin (amongst others), as they race across America in their cars is both simple and funny. Perfect early Sunday afternoon watching. Or, you can continue the horror weekend with Cronenberg’s sexual body horror Shivers on horror channel later that evening. Or watch both? The Cannonball Run trumps it though, to be honest!