Set in the War-torn Balkans in the mid 90’s The Seasoning House follows deaf mute Angel played by Rosie Day as she is torn from her home and family to work in a brothel where she must prepare the girls for customers and then clean them up after. She spends the rest of her time moving between the walls and the crawlspaces of the house observing her kidnappers. After the brutal rape and murder of her only confident she tries to escape and must fight off the brothel owner and the soldiers who butchered her family.
The first thing I have to say about this film is this. Sean Pertwee cannot do a Balkan accent. This is a sad fact and it by no means makes him a bad actor in fact I consider him one of Britain’s great actors. But his lack of ability to move away from his own gravelly English accent is evident in The Seasoning House where he stands out a little from all the other characters whose Balkan accents are much better than his. Another thing is that it seems to take forever for anything to happen in the story. We spend almost 40 minutes covering the main character, Angel’s, early life and how she came into her predicament where it could have easily be done in almost half the time. The beginning does little to develop her character and is really only there to go into great detail about the way the brothel is run.
These are pretty much the only complaints I have about Paul Hyett’s The Seasoning House. It is a rape revenge thriller that manages to be original in genre that has been rather formulaic for many years.
Let’s look at the actors. First off Sean Pertwee who, as I have already said, cannot maintain an accent that is not his own but is a terrifying villain in the role of Goran. He seems to be on the cusp of insanity at all times and worse still has a troop of killers and psychopaths at his command. His single minded pursuit of Angel in the second half of the film makes him a terrifying antagonist. Viktor is played by Kevin Howarth who portrays the dual role of ruthless pimp and obsessive lover of Angel and how these parts of his life come into conflict when Angel becomes the target of Goran’s soldiers. We see him torn as he tries to protect Angel and his own business from Goran’s insanity. Finally Rosie Day as Angel. Playing a deaf mute cannot be easy especially in a physically demanding role such as this. Angel is chased through walls, woods and factories getting beaten, shot at, stabbed and at one point strangled with a belt. But Day manages to deliver a fantastic performance despite all of this.
And that leads me to the violence. It is brutal and does not shy away from it but nor does it glorify it. The fight scenes are natural and do not look choreographed which gives a sense of panic and terror when they take place. Angel does not become a gun totting karate expert and instead fights in a frenzied fashion flaying about with knives, bricks and in one case an ornamental pig (don’t ask just watch it). Hyett’s reliance upon practical effects over rather than excessive use of CGI makes the violence more gut wrenching especially in some of the more brutal scenes.
Overall the film is fantastic and is suitable for anyone who is a fan of the rape revenge genre or anyone who likes original action films.