Fantasia Film Festival 2016 Movie Review: LET ME MAKE YOU A MARTYR

When I think of Marilyn Manson, I’m immediately brought back to 1996 when he released his controversial “Antichrist Superstar”.  When I heard that he was going to be a prominent character in Corey Asraf and John Swab’s anticipated film LET ME MAKE YOU A MARTYR I would be remiss to say I wasn’t intrigued.  The film stars Manson as a hitman named Pope, along with Mark Boone Junior (FX’s “Sons of Anarchy”), Sam Quartin (NY84), and Niko Nicotera (THE PURGE: ANARCHY) and is both written and directed by Corey Asraf and John Swab (JUDAS CHARIOT).  The film is set up like a Southern neo-noir where we the viewer are piecing together the events that have transpired at the hands of Drew Glass (Niko Nicotera).  

LET ME MAKE YOU A MARTYR has some of the best acting that I have seen in quite some time.  The character development is superb and I was absolutely blown away by Manson’s performance.  As the hitman named Pope, he’s calculating, cold, and detached from life (both figuratively and literally) which results in him being absolutely terrifying.  I have not seen Marilyn Manson in any other acting roles, other than his musical persona on stage, but I can say without a shadow of a doubt that he steals this movie.  I so desperately wanted to know more about his character, where did he come from, his upbringing, why he is the way that he is, but the directors don’t give us much insight.  I can’t tell if this is a good thing or a bad thing - I like the mystery but at the same time I just wanted to know so much more.  The performances by Sam Quartin and Niko Nicotera, who play brother and sister June and Drew Glass, were top-notch and heartbreaking.  Our main focus is on Drew as we see him come back to his hometown after a six year absence to make things right and get June away from their abusive father (Mark Boone Junior).  Embroiled in all of this is a tale of drug addiction, kidnapping, loss, eternal love, and of course, murder.  

The only issue I had with the film was the story.  Don’t get me wrong, the story is fantastic but the last ⅓ of the film left me a bit confused.  I’ve been trying to sort it out since watching and I actually watched it twice to try and get a better understanding but I’m still in a place of confusion.  I don’t want to give anything away and if you get a chance to watch it, I would love to know your thoughts on the ending.  The last chapter of the movie has an almost ethereal feel to it and I’m not sure if that was intentional but it made me question what I was actually watching - what was real and what was possibly fake.  I typically love films that leave things open ended and though the main focus of the film was an open and shut case, the surrounding subplots held more mystery.  An aspect of the story I did like was the theme of innocence and the loss of that.  When we are presented with a person that exudes innocence and light, it’s hard to let that go, and sometimes we get lost in that notion of once being that way.  I like how Asraf and Swab had that theme run through the entirety of the film, even up until the last scene.  In a way, it gave the story a small glimmer of hope.  Lastly, let's talk about the music.  Having had the chance to watch this film a few times, each time I was struck by just how good the music was and how it seemed to relate to every scene it was involved in.   I have to hand it to composer Gingger Shankar and music supervisor Brian Black for putting together such an effective score that has stayed with me long after viewing the film. 

Overall, LET ME MAKE YOU A MARTYR is a soul crushing piece of cinema that will stay with you long after you watch it.  The performances are what drives this film and you’ll be blown away with Manson’s performance as Pope as well as all the other characters in the movie. Though there were times towards the end of the film where I started to get confused, it didn't hinder me from enjoying the movie, if anything it only drove me to want to know more.  All in all, this is one of the best character driven films I’ve seen in quite some time and I look forward to seeing more work from Asraf and Swab in the future. 

Devastatingly Yours,
Shannon M.