Thursday, October 3, 2013

Horrorthonpalooza 2013: The Seasoning House

Day two of Horrorthonpalloza started poorly but ended well. The second movie chosen was Feeding Billy. It was supposedly released in 1997 but looked like it was filmed on a VHS camcorder. The characters were never introduced and there were so many without any attempt at personality that it was impossible to figure out who was talking at any given point. Nothing about this movie was inspired or interesting. It lasted about twenty minutes before a general consensus was reached and the first veto of the season was enacted.

We all know that horror is a subjective genre. One man’s Blood Diner is another man’s Chopping Mall; but time wasted is time wasted. Feeding Billy, please excuse our veto but you will not be missed. We counted on this possibility and have replacement movies at the ready.

The replacement film… The Seasoning House.

The Seasoning House is a 2012 British release directed and co-written by Paul Hyett. Hyett is better known for his special makeup effects in movies like The Descent and Doomsday. It is obvious that he has been paying attention to other directors because as a first time director he really has his act together. The movie stars British actors Rosie Day, Sean Pertwee, and Kevin Howarth.

The makers of The Seasoning House refer to it as a horror film. I’m not so sure that I would place it in that category. Some call it a revenge flick and that fits to a degree but it’s not really horror revenge on the level of The Last House on the Left. I would call The Seasoning House more of a thriller than horror but at least it was a well-made movie with an interesting concept.

Interesting concepts don't always make for an easy approach. The movie is set in Serbia and takes place in a brothel that caters to soldiers and mercenaries. To call it a brother is being a bit kind. The females are all teenage girls taken and held prisoner by the house owner, Viktor. One of the girls is a deaf mute Viktor names Angel.

Angel, played by the tiny Rosie Day, takes care of the house and the girls. Part of her responsibility includes dosing the girls with heroin before they are raped and wiping the blood from their faces and body after the fact. Viktor doesn’t mind that his customers like rough trade but they must pay for the privilege. Like I said – not an easy concept. Every man in the movie is basically a monster. It definitely does not paint a pretty picture of Serbia. I’m not booking a vacation any time soon.

Angel finds a new friend when one of the girls reveals that she “speaks” sign language. This girl is the catalyst that sparks Angel to action. Actress Rosie Day is excellent at playing both the wounded bird and the smoldering ember. Her methods of revenge are sloppy but realistic. You definitely root for Angel but at the same time the movie has a general fatalistic feel. Even if Angel wins she is still a young girl in Serbia. Lose lose situation.

Would I recommend The Seasoning House? Yes, but only to people that understand what they are getting into. It is not a murder porn type like Hostel – Paul Hyett never cheapens his film by showing the girls naked. At no point should the audience be titillated by what they are witnessing on the screen. It is brutal and violent and not in the fun way that I expect from a horror film. That does not mean expectations are not meant to be broken. The cinematography is excellent, the acting is excellent, and the suspense and action are excellent. Three excellents can’t be wrong.

Voting Feeding Billy off the island was the right thing to do. Stay tuned to see if the next movie is vetoed and if so what will replace it? We only have a limited number of replacements so things might get desperate towards the end.

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