The Seasoning House
Paul Hyett's horror-thriller is tense but cheaply exploits the issue of sex slavery
Set in the war-torn Balkans, it takes place in a house where young girls are held captive and sold for men’s pleasure. It follows one girl named Angel (Rosie Day), a mute orphan who is employed to tend to the various other women by cleaning them up and drugging them for each new visitor. Unknown to her captors, however, Angel can move between the walls and crawl-spaces of the house, which comes in handy when the soldiers responsible for killing her family and abducting her come back for some more sadistic pleasure, providing the opportunity for revenge.
Hyett’s film consciously juxtaposes the horror of rape with surreal drug-induced elements before turning into a violent tale of revenge designed to have audiences cheering. While he refrains from showing too much flesh, particularly with his female cast, his film is lamentable for exploiting a real world scenario such as sex slavery for cheap horror thrills. This is a deeply unpleasant subject matter and Hyett's handling of it leaves a nasty taste in the mouth.
The second act builds up the tension, with the action unfolding amid the claustrophobic confines of the walls of the house, and Day's central performance is solid. But it’s hard to know who Hyett has made this film for, given that attempts to make any kind of serious social or political comment about the abuses of war are quickly overtaken by the need to ‘entertain’, with brutal revenge slayings and an ending that feels particularly cheap and genre-serving.
Limited release from Fri 21 Jun.