Teenage girls are kidnapped from their homes during the war and held hostage in ‘the seasoning house’, where they are prostituted to visiting soldiers. Angel (Rosie Day), a deaf and mute girl, has been given the job of caring for and preparing the girls but at night she travels around the house through vents and crawl spaces plotting her revenge.
The Seasoning House is by no means an easy film to watch. The first half of the film is misogynistic and brutal, depicting these girls that are barely even women yet being repeatedly raped and left tied up to their beds awaiting the next batch of visiting soldiers. Aside from the obvious brutality and cruelty of the theme, the film delivers a particularly unflattering representation of men with all male characters being violent rapists, and even the ‘nice guys’ are obnoxiously uncaring when in a position to help the girls. If violence against women is something you avoid, then do yourselves a favour and avoid this film too!
Director Paul Hyett has already proven his skills as a valued member of the make up department in films like The Descent and The Woman in Black, and his ability to create not only outstandingly cringeworthy special effects but a brilliantly moody and tense atmosphere too is what turns this film from an unbearably violent exploitation-horror to a stylish and slick thriller. The sets and make up are flawless creating a grimy, gritty atmosphere that makes you feel like you’re contracting some horrible disease just watching it and from the opening right through to the end the story of lead character Angel is moving and exciting. The ending does leave a lot to be desired and is disappointingly inconclusive, it feels like there’s more to come however the rest of the film is so well executed it’s impossible to stay disappointed for long.
The dodgy accents occasionally detract from the seriousness of the film, with Sean Pertwee occasionally slipping back to cockney to the point where you half expect him to groan ‘me guts are out Coop!’ (Dog Soldiers, in case you didn’t know) and although The Seasoning House is a British film the Balkan war setting requires European accents and British actors putting on these largely unplaceable accents is very confusing and seems quite unnecessary. But aside from the occasional accent issues the performances are solid all round. Rosie Day is the highlight of the film; playing a girl that can’t speak she really has to focus on body language and movement to convey the character’s feelings and she does so brilliantly.
The Seasoning House isn’t really a horror film, but it is pretty horrific. The make up effects are fantastic and the atmosphere created by the setting and all the little touches makes it almost beautiful to look at (looking past the disgustingness that is!) The ending is inconclusive to the point that it’s a bit frustrating but the rest of the film more than makes up for it and if the point was to leave you guessing, it’s definitely something this film does well. Not for the faint hearted or the easily offended, The Seasoning House is about the sisterhood and girl power that must exist and stay srtong in a world where all men are pigs and rapists. I repeat: Not for the easily offended!