The Seasoning House Review
Advanced warning: The Seasoning House is not for the faint hearted, or cinemagoers with other options. Set during the Balkan war, further misery is laid out by setting the horror in a brothel that specialises in child prostitution. The protagonist, Angel, is a young, deaf orphan responsible for injecting and cleaning the battered workers. It’s grim, and that includes the supporting performances. Angel (played adequately by Rosie Day in her first film role) is understandably reticent. She befriends a mouse and repeatedly hides inside wardrobes, peeking through the gaps at horrible acts of violence. In a way, the viewer is stuck in the same position: spying on horrible scenes, unable to escape, questioning why any of it is happening. I’m having difficulty gauging if The Seasoning House has any meaning. The war setting seems crudely tacked on as plot framing device, while the unoriginal gender politics surrenders to conventional thriller cliches. In terms of exploitation, it could be harsher to be redolent of wartime torture. It’s also the kind of film where guns and knives are interchangeable, depending on whether the screenwriter wants a character to die or survive. First-time director Paul Hyett has mainly been a make-up effects artist since 1998, and that’s the film’s main, and perhaps only, strength. The camera glides at plaintive angles across delicate shots that don’t fit the subject matter. If Hyett’s aiming for a fairytale, then he’ll have to do better than dull sequences of young girls slumped across beds; bruised and silent, they hint at a director more comfortable with fake blood than dialogue and character. The swirling music comes from a more wistful drama. It’s rarely interrupted, unless by a laughable villain or gunshot. Whenever someone dies – whether prostitute or soldier – it’s hard to muster any emotion, other than boredom.