Wednesday, March 26, 2014
The Seasoning House (2012) : A Brutal Yet Compelling Debut
Directed (and co-written) by former special effects wiz Paul Hyett, THE SEASONING HOUSE wastes no time getting right to it. A young girl is brought to a house of horrors in which teenage girls are forced into prostitution to service soldiers on break from war in the Balkans.
Viktor (Kevin Howarth) is their pimp, the owner of the brutal brothel, and he takes a special interest in the girl he names Angel. Angel (Rosie Day) is a deaf mute, and has an unsightly port-wine birthmark on her face, making her seemingly too unattractive to present to the militia. Instead, he forces her to be his personal sex slave, though he does seem to genuinely care about her in his own warped way.
In flashbacks, we come to realize Angel has been ripped from her home, having watched her mother be shot and killed right in front of her by soldiers who then round up all the young women in town and bring them to Viktor.
Angel has the unenviable task of doping up the restrained women, making them less likely to fight during their assaults. She paints their faces with makeup beforehand, and afterward she cleans them up and empties their waste buckets.
One day one of the captives, Vanya (Dominique Provost-Chalkley), realizes Angel is deaf and makes a connection to Angel by using sign language. Angel is shocked to see someone who knows how to sign, and the two are able to strike up a friendship. Angel spends time with her friend but doesn't allow anyone at the house to know they are close.
Angel has a habit of sneaking around the house by exploring between the walls, and knows its secrets inside and out. She's able to sneak in to see Vanya without anyone being the wiser, but with this friendship comes the capacity to love, and Angel ends up an unwilling witness to the violent rape and brutal beatings that her friend has to go through, at one point her pelvis is broken during the sex act. Viktor explains this ferocity away by announcing that the men pay more to use the girls more "extensively".
THE SEASONING HOUSE shouldn't be disregarded as yet another "torture porn" or exploitation-type of film, as it has a bigger, more harrowing tale to tell. You'll be thinking about it long after it's over. I know I still am.