Review: The Seasoning House / Cert: 18 / Director: Paul Hyett / Screenplay: Paul Hyett, Conal Palmer, Adrian Rigelsford / Starring: Rosie Day, Kevin Howarth, Sean Pertwee, Dominique Provost-Chalkley, Anna Walton / Release Date: June 28th
Special make-up effects designer Paul Hyett makes his directorial debut with The Seasoning House, a brutal film set in a war-torn Eastern European country where young girls are kidnapped for the sex trade. The title refers to the place where the girls are enslaved and conditioned to their new world, or ‘seasoned’. Not one for family viewing.
Rosie Day puts in a stellar performance as Angel, a deaf mute girl who has been orphaned by the very men who visit the house and abuse the girls in it. She has become the favourite of Viktor (Howarth), the psychotic and amoral ‘owner’ of the girls. Viktor spares Rosie from forced prostitution due to his fondness for her, and in exchange for her cleaning, cooking food and drugging the girls for the frequent visitors. As she becomes emotionally numb to the nightmare around her, she makes a friend in Alexa (Provost-Chalkley), a new girl whose fate sparks Rosie’s desire for revenge. She soon learns Viktor is not her only problem, as the army’s sadistic leader Goran (Pertwee with a dodgy European accent) tries to stop her.
The disorientating camera shots work along with the soundtrack, a pre-requisite for a good horror film. Dialogue is sparingly used, visuals and atmosphere instead carrying the film. Impressive special effects and gore are no surprise from the director who has previously plied his trade on films such as The Descent, Eden Lake, Harry Brown and The Woman in Black. Old school horror fans might be reminded slightly of I Spit on Your Grave, but in general this is an assured debut from Hyett, who has created the Hostel of the illegal sex trade.