Finally Watched It – Challenge Edition: “Martyrs” (2008)

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In yet another movie that is touted on many lists for being super disturbing and graphic, Martyrs features two women who were at the mercy of a cult trying to create martyrs by having them survive supreme pain to transcend or transfigure to see God. The movie starts with Lucie, seeking revenge on what was done to her with the help of Anna, who hopes Lucie will move beyond the pain she went through.

Is it wrong of me to say this isn’t that bad? I mean, it’s violent and terrible. It opens with gruesome murders and features beatings and torture but… Ok, for me, a movie has to cross a line even within the narrative to ‘offend’ me or make me want to tap out of it. But this didn’t. Granted, I winced, I was shocked, it was gut-wrenching to watch the ‘chosen’ woman break over time but it wasn’t too much for me.

My bar for tapping out is ‘Serbian Film,’ however. And I’ve seen ‘Salo.’ This movie does not come close to either of those in terms of giving up on it.

I do have one kinda spoilery question… Not that I want these heartless bastards to get away with what they’re doing but if you have a cult of murder torture that you don’t want people to find out about, WHY would you set your torture den in the bunker of a house that you plant a family in THAT WOULD HAVE THEIR SPECIAL ACCOMPLISHMENTS END UP IN A NEWSPAPER!? Wouldn’t you want some people that were super low key and average? Someone that would take a while to notice if they were missing and not star students in the local school who would absolutely attract attention if they suddenly didn’t show up ever again? That just really bothered me as something a super fancy evil cult wouldn’t overlook. Especially when it’s revealed that they had a bunch of old rich people who probably could pull off the “quirky old person who lives alone now” type of person.

Ugh, but that irksome plot point aside, this was a super bloody movie that’s shocking but it didn’t get me so bad that it’s the most disturbing thing I’ve ever seen. I’m kinda glad I was able to scratch this off my list. It was well shot and acted. If you can take it and like horror, I’d check it out!

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Lenni Reviews: “Given” Vol 2 & 3 by Natsuki Kizu

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Yup, this is a two for one. Because for some reason, volume one and four were available as ARC copies, but not two and three. Makes sense… I had to read them in order so things make sense.

In these volumes, the band is prepping for their first live performance and finally picks a name: Given. We get more story time with Haruki and Akihiko; who have a bunch of drama aside for Uenoyama clearly having a crush on Mafuyu.

Uenoyama coming to terms with his feelings for Mafuyu and their interactions are adorable and the dynamic between Haruki and Akihiko is rife with angst and plot potential. I get great vibes off our four main leads and the way this is all written, you really want to see them succeed. 3.9 out of 5 for being interesting but bordering on overly dramatic.

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Lenni Reviews: “The Photographer of Mauthausen” by Salva Rubio & Pedro Columbo

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review and is recommended for mature readers.

This graphic novel is a dramatized story of Francisco Boix, a Spanish press photographer who ended up the confidant of an SS officer at the Mauthausen concentration camp.

This isn’t an easy read but so many stories came out of this time and a man risking everything to expose the truth of the Nazi camps and try to bring justice is a great addition. How much of this is true, I don’t know but I found this to be compelling and respectful. It’s drawn well with enough detail to get the point without being gratuitous. Just have something happy lined up to read after. 4.7 out of 5.

 

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Lenni Reviews: “Moon Lake” by Dan Fogler, Tim Seeley, R.H. Stavis, Nick Tapalansky, Stefan Hutchinson, Brian Holguin, et al.

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review and is rated 18+.

This is a horror anthology centering around a cursed area called Moon Lake.

With a Crypt Creeper like narrator called “Man in the Moon,” these stories are chock full of gore but not so much with the horror. I almost feel bad comparing it to Tales from the Crypt because while the campy nostalgia of that show is a reflection of it’s time and kinda predictable in a way, this collection is trying WAY too hard. It keeps reaching to appeal to the ‘farts are funny’ crowd and as that is not me, I was mostly bored and just flipping through the pages. I can’t give this a 1 out of 5 because clear effort went into the art. I’ll be generous and give this a 2 out of 5 because the last story in the collection saved me from complete boredom. 

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Lenni Reviews: “Fangs” by Sarah Andersen

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review.

This book is the collected strips from the webseries of the same name on Tapas featuring a vampire and a werewolf falling in love.

These who are almost unfairly adorable. As this is a collection of single strips, there is no overarching story other than their general relationship. It’s just Elise and Jimmy being cute and loving in their own twisted and special way. I found it very sweet and I can see reading it multiple times to justify the cover price. 4.7 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Koimonogatari: Love Stories” Vol. 2 by Tohru Tagura

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review.

As Yoshinaga and Hasegawa become better friends, we get some more insight into what other LGBT kids go through in Japan when we meet Sakura, who got outed by his cousin; who continues to bully him and in this humble reviewer’s opinion, needs his throat punched for what he puts Sakura through.

This volume is an emotional rollercoaster. We have fake boyfriends, fake girlfriends, bullies, love confessions, and my main takeaway from it is that high school sucks ass and I don’t miss it one bit. I got called a dyke then being bi (and still now by guys who are salty I won’t mess with them) and it sucks to deal with when you barely know who you are and don’t have many friends.

It also sucks that Yoshinaga has to lie to protect himself but I give this book props for giving him a bunch of people who love and support him. That’s a relief. 4 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Blue Flag” Vol. 1 KAITO

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review.

In this manga we have a love quadrangle between outsider Taichi Ichinose, clumsy and shy girl Futaba Kuze, popular jock Toma Mita, and Kiza’s friend Masumi.

It’s interesting so far and I really enjoy how Ichinose and Kuza interact. You can see how feelings formed there on either side. If they end up together, it would be adorable but I have a feeling that things are going to get super complicated and messy. But I’m here for it; I want to know what happens next. 4 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Komi Can’t Communicate” Vol 9 by Tomohito Oda

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review.

In this volume, we are treated to:

  • Kimo wanting to continue her friendship with the girls she hung out with on the school trip
  • Learns to play “Eraser War”
  • Makes and gives chocolates to her friends for Valentine’s Day
  • Gets creeped on by Yamai again
  • Goes with her friends to a batting cage
  • Meets a girl, Akako Sato, who has issues being too nice
  • White Day shenanigans
  • Side story of Komi’s parents

The stories felt shorter this time, as there are more of them in this volume. I would have either preferred less stories with more length or a longer volume. Things flashed by at a breakneck pace and this is the first volume where I didn’t feel like I wanted more because it was so adorable (even though it was), I wanted more because it went by too fast. Still good but not as good as the others. 4 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Kusama: The Graphic Novel” by Elisa Macellari

*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review and is recommended for mature readers.

This graphic memoir of Yayoi Kusama, an artist who used painting to deal with and express her mental issues. It’s a breezy book, giving broad information at a fast pace. It’s a beautiful introduction to Kusama’s life and art. A longer book would have dived deeper but you understand who she is and why she loves art so much.

Not knowing much about Kusama myself, I felt satisfied by what I learned about her from this book. You can tell a lot of love went into the art and even if you aren’t into is, its worth checking out. 3.9 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Karmen” by Guillem March

*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review and is recommended for mature readers..

Karmen comes upon Catalina as she’s cutting herself and takes her on a journey in order to rethink how she is living her life.

Trigger warning for self harm, suicide, and rape.

Karmen, clearly a spirit of some kind, reminds me of Death from the Sandman comics in a way. The difference here is whatever Karmen is, there’s a bunch of them and there’s in implication she’s taking too ling with shepherding Catalina’s soul to wherever she’s supposed to go. I wonder what is so special about Catalina, or perhaps what’s so special about Karmen, that will keep this story going. It’s trippy and cool with some amazing art. I am very curious to see what happens next. 4 out of 5.

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