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Seasoning House, The (DQ)


Stars: Rosie Day, Kevin Howarth, Sean Pertwee, Anna Walton, Jemma Powell, Dominique Provost-Chalkley, Ryan Oliva

Director: Paul Hyett

A really nasty film set in the Balkans of 1996, where girls are abducted by rogue militia and taken to a dilapidated mansion to work in filthy conditions as prostitutes. The place is run by Viktor (Howarth) and his heavies (who seem to disappear in the climactic bloodbath), whose girls are brutally raped again and again by his clients. Small wonder he has a hefty turnover; as we can see later, bodies of those who have outlived their use are dumped in nearby woods.

As a new crop arrives, Viktor inexplicably cuts one girl's throat, presumably to show the others the penalties of rebellion, although you'd have the unfortunate victim of more value alive than as a dead example.

Acting as a sort of brothel servant is mute teenager Angel (Day), who 'prepares' (drugs) the girls, and for whom Viktor seems to have a soft spot although, unebknown to him, she has taken to using the crawlspace and ventilation chambers there to move from room to room. Angel makes the mistake of befriending one girl, Violeta (Walton), whose pelvis has just been broken. When, from the ventilation shaft, Anna sees Ivan (Oliva), hulking henchman of militia leader Goran (Pertwee) humping Violeta to extinction, Angel snaps and, after a ferocious battle, stabs him to death.

Now a fugitive, she's responsible for two more fatalities as she evades capture by increasingly narrow margins, helped by Viktor's strange dispatch of one of Goran's men.

This grisly, unpleasantly atmospheric piece is really two films in one: life in what might have been called The House That Dripped Blood if Hammer's rival Amicus hadn't taken the title for one of their 1970s' classics (ironically starring Pertwee's father Jon) and an action thriller at the end. Neither makes edifying viewing and the performances are no more than functional.

David Quinlan

UK 2012. UK Distributor: Kaleidoscope Films. Colour by Panalux.
89 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 18.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 2, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 1, Swearing 2.

Review date: 16 Jun 2013