By Gabe Toro | The Playlist November 16, 2010 at 3:11AM
For literally no reason whatsoever, apparently America will have its own remake of the French horror picture "Martyrs." The Pascal Laugier horror picture is part of France's upswing in stomach-turning horror pictures of late, possibly due to the racial unrest of the last decade and regional tensions involving the public's fear of the increasing Muslim youth demographic, combined with a shaky economy. Or maybe it's just post-post-post-post-modernism. It's the French. We Yanks never can tell.
"The Last Exorcism" director Daniel Stamm is the man with the plan to draw up the American blueprint for "Martyrs" from the director's chair. He's only got "Exorcism" and another fake doc, "A Necessary Death" on his resume, but the producers (who also stood behind the "Twilight" films) see something in him capable of recontextualizing one of the most upsetting horror films of the past few years.
For those of you who haven't seen it, "Martyrs" jumps back and forth in time to showcase two orphans who bonded together and, as adults, took on the savages from within the system that brutalized them. It's a film with more than a few surprises, and more than a few truly gruesome, existentially hopeless moments, and remains a tough sit for even the most seasoned horror fan. But Stamm sounds like a test audience member when he talks about how he'll address that darkness. "Martyrs is very nihilistic," he says, probably sipping some douchebag latte drink. "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." Hm, we think that hyper-articulate response is best saved for bad movies, but whatever.
Discussing the original, he says, "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." Wait, what? "But then it takes a turn, and in doing so asks interesting questions. '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." If THAT'S the most interesting question for him at the end of "Martyrs," we wonder what movie he was watching. This is a lot like Rod Lurie saying he's remaking "Straw Dogs" and immediately discussing how he's changing the rape scene to make it more palatable. In other words, if you're going to misunderstand a film, do it with your mouth closed.
Stamm doesn't disclose whether he's writing the film or not, but he does confirm that Kristen Stewart -- an early rumor spun by the film's producer Wyck Godfrey -- is not involved. Which is a relief to us, not because we like Kristen Stewart, but we can't imagine any high-profile actress being tortured and psychologically destroyed like in the film. Really, we're just not up for another go-round in the "Martyrs" mobile ever again. Thanks, France, but we'll just take one this time, not two.
No word yet when this will go in front of cameras, but Stamm also recently lined up a gig directing "Reincarnate," an entry in M. Night Shyamalan's Night Chronicles aka ideas he scribbled on a napkin but couldn't sell to a major studio. Production on the haunted jury room film (seriously) will begin next year.