The Seasoning House marks the first directorial effort by renowned British special effects artist Paul Hyett. You may not recognize his name, but you will no doubt be familiar with his brilliant special effects/make-up work found in films such as The Descent, The Woman in Black, Doomsday, Eden Lake and so much more. It was only a matter of time before Hyett took a seat behind the lens and with The Seasoning House being his feature film debut he managed to find a way to leave his stamp on the horror genre. The film follows deaf and mute Angel, who is abducted and ditched in a grim Balkan brothel. The ex-soldier who runs the place, Viktor, puts her to work tending to the other women, but when she sparks a friendship with one of the women, things take a turn for the violent.
The first five minutes of the film open with such brutality and nastiness that you will know right away if this film is for you as you see these innocent young women get tossed into hell on earth. I know a lot of people would be hesitant going into a film with the subject matter that this one deals with, but Hyett handles it more carefully than you might imagine. Major credit goes out to him for being able to tell such a nasty story in a way that makes it very watchable.
The first half of the film is its strongest point as it takes its time building up the characters and subjecting you to the terrible conditions these girls are living in. Rosie Day turns in an unforgettable performance as the film’s hero, Angel. When the main character is deaf and doesn’t speak a word, you need someone with the acting chops like Day to carry the character’s emotion. She does a phenomenal job showing the desperation in her character and the painful expressions on her face are like a knife to the heart. I have a feeling we’ll be seeing a lot of Rosie Day in the future, and hopefully taking on the horror genre once again because she was a real treat to watch.
Hyett is no joke when it comes to giving horror fans what they want to see in terms of gore. With such an extensive background in special effects it should come to no surprise that The Seasoning House is riddled with some stomach turning blood shed. The film is down right brutal at times and certainly isn’t for the feint of heart, but If you can stomach a solid dose of the red stuff then you’ll surely find a lot to like about film.
While the film’s first half shows a ton of promise, it starts to flatline in the second half as there are just too many convenient plot set-ups that take you from a very real and terrifying situation to something that feels like any other horror movie out there. Despite a weak and unconvincing final act, the film does have many great moments that will keep most horror fans pleased throughout. The Seasoning House is a brutal and thrilling directorial debut from Paul Hyett that will have you shuddering one moment and on the edge of your seat the next. I hope that this is just a stepping stone for much bigger and bloodier things to come from Hyett because he certainly has the talent to turn out some amazing horror films.