‘The Seasoning House’ – sick revenge thriller review
The Seasoning House is a 2012 British thriller starring Rosie Day, Sean Pertwee and Kevin Howarth. It was recommended to me by the lovely Eric of The IPC. Cheers Pen!
Now, this film is certainly a thriller. But so is that song by Michael Jackson and The Seasoning House leans more on the side of horror a lot of the time. It’s certainly not a film for the faint hearted.
The story centres around a deaf mute girl called Angel (Day) who is kidnapped by some military men along with other teenage girls from her village.
The girls are consequently taken away from their families (who are murdered if they protest the kidnapping of their daughters) and given to a man named Victor (Howarth) who traps them in his dingy, depressing house. Victor keeps the girls so he can sell them for sex.
The story is set during 1996 and I’m not sure where exactly but judging by the (occasionally dodgy) accents I’d guess somewhere in Eastern Europe. It’s classic Jason & the Argonauts Syndrome where no-one speaks the language of their native land. Oh well (not everyone likes subtitles I guess).
The evil Victor takes a shine to Angel and because of this and the birthmark on her face, decides not to put her with the other girls but to instead make her his personal assistant. This is not a desirable job but is marginally better than what the other girls are put through. And of course it gives the story a semblance of hope and intrigue – Angel is our protagonist after all. She soon realises she can fit through the ventilation system and can move around the house undetected, visiting the other girls secretly and showing them the compassion they are denied the rest of the time.
The girls are kept tethered in separate rooms, guarded by Victor’s henchman. One of Angel’s duties is to prepare them for male visitors – applying their make-up, washing away dry blood and injecting them with heroin. They’re in squalid conditions and are mistreated badly by the men who pay to have sex with them. Some of the men are so aggressive they leave the girls with broken bones or worse. In one unforgettable scene, it is revealed that one of the girl’s has a broken pelvis. Victor, apparently unfazed by this, just charges the man more money.
And that’s pretty much how this depressing story plays out, in a hellish routine of rape, violence and darkness. But of course, this is a revenge story and the time for retribution does come.
The tone never really changes, the film is gritty and brutal throughout. But in the second half of the movie, the pain and suffering is delivered to the people who deserve it. So it might be bloody and it might be gross – but at least it’s fun seeing people get what they deserve. Isn’t it?
The Seasoning House is an undeniably captivating film. It was a film where my hand involuntarily went over my mouth in shock. I actually spoke out loud (“oh my god”) despite watching it by myself. And I have pretty strong nerves when it comes to movies, I’ll more or less watch anything and I’ve technically seen worse than The Seasoning House. Despite the sensitive and cruel subject matter, it’s not a gratuitous film. There was little nudity (certainly no female nudity) and of course some satisfying revenge scenes which do help shift the bitter taste.
And sometimes it is refreshing to watch something so shocking and nerve shattering that it really does have an emotional effect. I was rooting for Angel and the girls so much – and my eyes didn’t stay dry.
There were of course, some pretty disturbing scenes. It’s not constant – mainly we are shown bits and pieces and our imaginations do the rest, but – and particularly in the second half of the film – there are scenes of extreme gore and sexual violence, some of which still seems to be embedded in my brain.
There’s one scene in particular that was very horrible and definitely, totally more at the horror end of the spectrum, even down to the way it was filmed and use of colour. It was frightening. I had no doubt that Paul Hyatt (the director) was trying to scare the shit out of us and it was only after the film finished I realised how much it had scared me. I checked my windows were closed and made sure my front door was locked. It’s a very claustrophobic film – in every sense of the word.
The gore is really well done, there were some super realistic violent scenes which made me wince and squeeze my nails into my hand. Some indie films really get it right with their special effects and this is one of them. Some of it hits you right in the face – bam! Wasn’t expecting that.
My only real complaint about The Seasoning House is unfortunately, the ending – which was in parts brilliant and in parts slightly unsatisfactory. I can’t say too much for fear of ruining your experience but it was the one weak link in the story. Perhaps the movie thought it was slightly cleverer than it was, I don’t know, but I think it could have been improved and for a movie that is so tense and ‘edge of your seat’ the ending let it down somewhat.
All in all, if you’re a fan of extreme thrillers or horrors or just one of those people who has to ‘watch everything’ I would highly recommend this film as a genuinely tense and shocking piece of cinema. It’s certainly not boring and it certainly will make you think. And possibly scream.