FEATURES | INTERVIEWS | NEWS | FRIGHTFEST | REVIEWS | BOOTH'S BLOG My Pick Of The Month On Horror: The Seasoning House
By Emily Booth, Sunday 21st February 2016
Arguably the strongest yet nastiest film we will have on the channel, The Seasoning House receives it’s Network premiere on the 27th of this month and for me this is one of those films (like Martyrs) that has me torn down the middle, my gut instinct ripped in two, my brains blown all over the wall as I try to put my finger on exactly how I feel about this kind of rare film. Like a piece of controversial modern art, you feel torn between the merits of aesthetic and it’s ethical content. God, I sound like my former Goldsmiths Uni lecturer now!
To put you in the picture, the film is set during the Balkan war 1996 a time and place where the potential for human brutality was at it’s most potent, it’s most debasing. After watching her mother pointlessly murdered a young deaf mute girl (Angel) is sold to a hideous brothel for soldiers along with a group of other orphaned girls. Spared the grim prospect of becoming an enforced prostitute she’s instead tasked with the job of assistant to the brothel owner Viktor. Her daily rituals include ‘cleaning up’ the abused girls for their next ‘customer’ depressingly smudging bad make up on their faces in a desperate bid to make them look ‘appealing’ and drugging them up to oblivion – the only light perhaps in this dark tunnel is that they are somewhat not fully conscious of the horrors inflicted upon them. Hardcore enough for you?! It gets worse (but then better!) After watching the rape and murder of her new friend, Angel cracks and seeks revenge against the very men who murdered her mother and placed her in hell itself.
On the one hand this film is bold, brutal, unflinching, ugly, depressing and almost (for me) unwatchable due to the sexual violence. On the other, it is incredibly well handled, unglorified, emphatic and emotionally engrossing. But there’s the two levels of existence too. The raw disgusting world of man and war, and the strange labyrinth – like dreamy world of Angel as she begins to explore this hellhole brothel, discovering hidden tunnels and wall cavities, turning her prison into her advantage. You cannot call this film entertaining really, but it is exceptionally engrossing.
When I watched this film for the first time I was still in the throws of very early motherhood to a baby girl, feeling nothing but love with the protective nature of a lioness and literally could not believe men could do any of these things to a young girl – whoever they were. So I was left in tears and I would not watch it again, but that is testament to the film’s emotive strength and there is at least in the second half of the film a rest from the grimy brothel life as the film slips more into typical survival / revenge horror.
Paul Hyett (previously an SFX extraordinaire) is one of the loveliest friendliest most talented men in the industry and has become a real friend of mine, and to create such an intense reaction in both the indie and mainstream press is testament to his boldness.
Hyett has just finished filming his latest project Heretiks in Wales a ‘richly layered medieval character piece’ set in a 17th century priory, and will be releasing a rare ‘glimpse’ of the unfinished film during this year’s FrightFest Glasgow on the 26th and 27th February. Hyett fans should get their tickets now.
The Seasoning House, whichever way you look at it, is an exceptional film and demands viewing. The network premiere is Saturday 27th Feb 10.45pm.
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