The Seasoning House Review
Known for his prosthetics and special effects make-up in films including Attack The Block and The Woman In Black, Paul Hyett made his debut in the director’s chair with The Seasoning House back in 2012. Premiered at last year’s FrightFest, the movie’s recent release on DVD means you can now experience the nerve-shredding thrills of this revenge story at home!
What’s it about? Located in the war-torn Balkans, The Seasoning House is a grim and soulless place where young girls are bought and sold for men’s pleasure. New to this place, Angel (Rosie Day), a young mute orphan, finds herself enslaved by Viktor (Kevin Howarth). Unknown to her master, she moves between the walls and crawlspaces of the house – silently observing, learning and planning for her escape.
Verdict: Revealing more about the plot would ruin the experience of watching a movie with such a singular protagonist: Rosie Day’s Angel. The British actress delivers a terrific performance, bringing to life her character just with the movement of her body, the expressions on her face and the fragile yet determined look in her eyes. The screenplay builds Angel’s character by cutting back and forth between the story that takes place in the house and flashbacks to her past.
The rest of the cast is not quite good as the lead, but director Hyett keeps us entertained with various make-up and visual tricks. Thanks to the production design, viewers will feel as if they’re trapped in the gritty house, gasping for air and light between the claustrophobic walls of the building.
Some of that claustrophobic feeling comes from the film’s risky script: The Seasoning House is mainly a visual story, driven by what’s on the screen more than by what the characters say. For example, during the first 15 minutes there are just a few lines of dialogue. For a modern horror movie, that’s rather unusual. Today, viewers are used to dialogue and exposition, not to long gritty sequences where nobody talks, which adds to the film’s unnerving feeling.
Of course, as expected in these revenge stories, the blood and gore moments are some of the best in this movie. And, as you’d anticipate from an expert like Hyett, the blood feels real, disgusting, and yet not exploitative. In fact, the director holds back the gory moments, making a crueler movie by not showing off the violence until just before the film’s third act.
Also, Hyett takes the opposite approach of most horror movies and instead of exploiting the bodies of the female cast, he choses to show more male than female flesh, which in a movie about female prostitution is a director’s call that should be celebrated. Female nudity in this movie would have felt gratuitous.
Final Words: It doesn’t advance the genre and the screenplay has its weaknesses, but the strength of its mute protagonist and production design will reel in not only fans of revenge movies but anyone who can keep up with the most violent moments.
The Seasoning House is out now on DVD & Blu-Ray.