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The Seasoning House (2012)

Director: Paul Hyett
Starring: Rosie Day, Sean Pertwee, Kevin Howarth, Anna Walton, Jemma Powell
Rated R 90 minutes

THE SEASONING HOUSE uses the Bosnian Civil War as the backdrop for a tale of a little mute girl (Rosie Day) who is thrust into a nightmare. When her mother is executed during a neighborhood raid by a heartless warlord/mercenary type named Goran (Sean Pertwee; BACKWOODS), she is taken and sold to an even more vile character named Viktor (Kevin Howarth; SUMMER SCARS, RAZOR BLADE SMILE, THE LAST HORROR MOVIE). Viktor runs a grimy brothel that provides drugged girls for the various soldiers and mercs roaming the wastelands. He demonstrates his utter indifference towards his slaves by slashing the throat of one woman in front of the newest arrivals. Fortunately for our heroine, Viktor takes a liking to her, names her "Angel," and puts her to work as a sort of maid instead of a sex slave. As days go by, Angel begins bonding with brothel's girls and explores the house's numerous vents and crawlspaces. But as she settles in to her new, miserable routine, Goran and his men arrive and set off a very bloody chain of events.

It's dark and dreary subject matter, and the film's look certainly matches the tone of the material.  The brothel is a filthy and bloodsoaked palace of misery, as the heroin-addicted women are forced to service all sorts of horrible, disgusting characters. It's so unbearably miserable it reeks of artificiality, and despite good performances from all involved, it fails to become the engaging drama it attempts to be. It's not until the arrival of Goran and Co. towards the end of the second act, when the THE SEASONING HOUSE shifts gears and turns into a stalk-and-slasher, that the film comes alive. Director Paul Hyett is a seasoned special effects pro (THE DESCENT, DOOMSDAY, EDEN LAKE, and many more) and he handles the violent action with a sure hand. It makes you wish the film had gone a little lighter on the drama and focused more on brutal thrills.

2.5 out of 5. 

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