Martyrs is an intense French film about the physical and psychological hell some people endure, and the revelations that can come from such trauma. It's a highly singular, inspired, ultraviolent film and horror fans everywhere love it, so of course Hollywood wanted a remake. Hot on the heels of The Last Exorcism in 2010, director Daniel Stamm ended up landing the highly coveted gig.
Unfortunately for fans of Stamm's work, the movie never happened, but we couldn't help but ask him about it when speaking to him about his newest movie, 13 Sins (which is currently on VOD with a theatrical release coming on April 18, 2014). As it turns out, studios had been sending Stamm tons of generic, torture-heavy scripts after Last Exorcism, which he didn't want to do, but then Martyrs caught his eye. He told us the remake script was "spellbinding," a "beautiful character study of how far you'll go for an insane friend," and "one of the best scripts I've read, probably ever."
So how come we never got to see the movie? We'll let Daniel Stamm explain:
"What happened was the French had done these 30 pages of just mind-numbing, repetitive violence, which is genius because it makes you feel the actual horror of that stuff, but there is no entertainment value. And so the Americans come in and go, 'We have to spice this up and make it more entertaining,' so suddenly it's 30 pages of Saw that just didn't work.
"The American remake keeps both girls alive, whereas the French version kills one of the girls very early. If you keep both of them alive this gives you a really great chance to have this psychological play between them and the torturers. Everything was going great creatively, and then the call comes in. 'The option ran out a week ago and the French producers now want so much money that we can't make the movie.'
"I think they're now back to making the movie for like $1 million, really low budget, which I think you could almost do, it's just there's this philosophy in Hollywood that you can never go back budget-wise. As a filmmaker you are judged by that. And then there's also this concept I was unaware of called plateauing, where if you're a filmmaker who makes two movies in the same budget bracket, that becomes your thing. You are the guy for the $3 million movie, and then that's all you do. And so my agents wouldn't let me do the $1 million movie, because then that's it for you, you'll supposedly never get that bigger budget."
Considering how great his newest movie is, it really is a bummer that we'll never get to see what Daniel Stamm would have done with Martyrs. 13 Sins is one of the smartest remakes I've seen in a good while, proving Stamm is the kind of director who really understands how to update source material so fans aren't just getting an identical retread with no identity of its own. We just hope that whoever inherits this new, low-budget version of Martyrs has those same instincts.
13 Sins is On Demand now from Amazon, iTunes and the like. It will hit theaters on April 18, 2014, and leading up to that we'll be posting much more of our lengthy chat with director Daniel Stamm.
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