My haiku review of The Seasoning House:
Broken ears protect,
Stole girl to slave existence,
Ready for revenge.
The opening film of Frightfest 2012 was a claustrophobic vignette showing the vector of a young girl displaced by ethnic cleansing and sold into sexual slavery in an anonymous Balkan war zone. The main character was a deaf mute who crawled through the walls of the eponymous Seasoning House to escape from the harrowing life she found herself in. In catching the eye of Bad Guy #2 she is given the best role available to the women trapped with her of alternately feeding them heroin to blunt the impact of their predicament and cleaning up after them heaving buckets of faecal matter and urine through various scenes. After encountering varying levels of brutality the female lead is turned from a sylph-like Newt to a Giger-esque Alien, as she takes apart the soldiers who were rendered responsible for her surroundings.
This well executed film was the directorial debut of Paul Hyett a special effects designer turned director. It was well edited, with each of the shots fully storyboarded before primary shooting began. The work put in shows, with a coherent flow of dirty and squalid images which frame the angelically detached main character well. A careful choice of sound is used to draw people into the life of the deaf heroine slipping through the walls. By filtering the wash of noise the director lends a dream-like quality to the horrible events, with the return of the soundtrack signalling a smash back to the brutal outcomes captured in the film.
I’m glad that I got this film out of the way very early on in the festival, it is not something you would watch for escapism, its much more in the mould of Martyrs and I’d recommend it only if you want to feel some emotional turmoil in your life. One very painful and anxious thumb up…