Set in the Balkans in 1996, The Seasoning House uses the horrors of war as the stepping stone into its own psychological horror. Paul Hyett, a former make-up artist makes his directorial debut, and while his film may have some impressive effects and stylistic touches, it’s ultimately hollow and rather boring.
Rosie Day plays Angel, a deaf mute dragged from her family during the conflict and forced to work in a low-rent brothel run by the sleazy Vicktor (Kevin Howarth). She spends her days tending to the other girls in the house, creeping between the walls and floorboards in her spare time. Things turn really nasty when Sean Pertwee’s Goran arrives, bringing along his troops, danger and the opportunity for Angel to get revenge.
The Seasoning House has its moments, but its subject matter makes it hard to stomach. It’s not particularly explicit, but Hyett’s slow-motion camera work and atmospheric lighting somewhat glamorizes proceedings, despite what his make-up work may imply. The first half of this horror-thriller blend is slow – literally. The sheer mount of slow-motion used almost verges on parody, but things do get going when the always good value Pertwee turns-up to spice up proceedings, but by then it’s too late and the film then descends into Die Hard in a Knocking Shop.
Hyett has worked on films such as Eden Lake and The Descent (Neil Marshall cameos) and he borrows liberally from the tone and themes from those movies. His make-up work here is good, and he could have a good career as a director, but he’ll need to have better material to work with.
It’s always sad when a below average film has really good special features. The Seasoning House comes with a crowded yet enjoyable commentary and a decent making of. It’s almost enough to make me reappraise the movie. Almost.