Let Me Make You A Martyr is the first feature length film to come from plot writers and directors John Swab and Corey Asraf, and is set for release later in the year. The film will be a sequel to the pair’s only other IMDb listed work, a short film entitled Judas’ Chariot (2014.)
Judas’ Chariot is a dark, indie, drama about a pair of adopted siblings/lovers – Drew and June Glass (Niko Nicotera & Sam Quartin,) who attempt to escape from their adopted father Larry Glass (Mark Boone Junior) – come drug supplier/sex trade entrepreneur– with the help of heroin addicted guardian, Uncle Marvin (Danny Martin Berkey.) It aired at the Court Métrage short film corner, at Cannes in 2015. The sinister and macabre plotline matches the bleak and harsh cinematography, editing, and directing style; this brings the film’s visual aspect, and the action being depicted into a satisfying union. The script is punchy, blackly comic, and grimly depressing – but not wet or trashy. The performances from the cast of are all very strong, particularly from Son’s of Anarchy stars Nicoreta and Boone Junior. But, besides its premiere, this film has not received much attention, which is surprising. I’d give this short film a solid 4/5 stars, which makes me a lot more excited for the release of the sequel film Let Me Make You A Martyr.
Let Me Make You A Martyr has literally just had its world premiere (on July 22nd) at the Fantasia Film Festival 2016, alongside Fede Alvarez’ new horror Don’t Breathe, where it was introduced by Marilyn Manson – who has a leading part in the film. It begins with Drew Glass returning to his hometown only to run into: his adoptive father and crack-addicted sister/lover Drew, a blind priest with a secret, a missing little girl, and a reclusive Native American hit man for hire (played by Manson.) On the Fantasia site, reviewer Devin Mendenhall says this film: “is a crime-flick love-story-melodrama hybrid that gushes style without forgetting the substance.” From the prequel and the trailer, there is something strongly convincing about both these films, the camerawork uses perspective cleverly. The directing from Swab and Asraf – with a plot that is partly based on Swab’s own life – fuel this intense, and almost uncomfortable level of realism. There are no ‘goodies’ and ‘baddies’ in this film, the murky grey of Drew and June’s morals is merely a step removed from that of their oppressors, Pope and Larry. But what connects us with the sibling/lovers as characters are the vestiges of innocence we can still see in them, they still appreciate the power of innocence and strive to preserve it.
Despite looking on paper like your average revenge thriller, covering the age-old tale of the prodigal son returning to right the wrongs of his past, this film is different. It has a unique feel to it that other indie films of this kind – Cohen Brothers-esque, sombre, indie films – lack. It skips over the commonplace clichés of your average crime drama. Swab and Asraf bring their own unique brand of mystery, and glorious grotesqueness, as they depict the decrepit reality of small-town life in the mid-west. In this film, everyone must struggle to survive, but death to these characters is a merciful end. They do not fear death, if anything they fear life more. But to die is to lose, and the fight is too important. The philosophical depth of the film is not to be sniffed at either, musings on mortality transcend beyond the simplistic constructs of “life and death.”
Manson said, in an interview with Rolling Stone, that he thoroughly enjoyed the role, and new it was right whilst on-set seeing his character’s house for the first time; a shack which is surrounded by swampland. He described the house as being “a combination between Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Apocalypse Now.” This is Manson’s biggest movie role to date. After being persuaded by friend and Son’s Of Anarchy star Boone Junior, and with Manson’s Sioux heritage, plus a ready to go black mohawk, Manson was the perfect fit. Critics have praised Manson’s performance as well; in his Fantasia review Mendenhall says that Manson’s delivery and poise in this film “demands more acting roles for the artist.”
This is one to make sure you see, no question. It’s going to be a morally debauched, twisted flick, with profound philosophical undertones, great visuals, and convincing realism. The kind of film that makes you feel uncomfortable in your seat, even in your own skin. It’s going to be a fucking sick ride, my favourite kind!
Words by: @lolajosephine