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October 6th, 2014


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09:15 pm - 31 Days of Halloween: The Seasoning House
I gotta stop letting other people pick the movie.

The Seasoning House is a British movie from 2012 about a Balkan brothel frequented by the local militia which, as far as I can tell, is responsible for the poor conditions of the surrounding area. The women at the brothel are not willing prostitutes; they are kidnapping victims kept drugged and chained to their beds. Angel, an adolescent mute with a birthmark on her face is brought in to "work", but Viktor, the owner, decides that she would be better utilized as an assistant. Her odd jobs mostly consist of administering the drugs and cleaning the girls up before each new client. The house is filthy and the clients are violent and abusive. You wouldn't catch Richard Gere in this place.

Angel's is not a pleasant existence, but she manages by finding crawlspaces and passages between the walls, and it is in exploring the house that she makes the acquaintance of the new girl, Vanya. Together they hope maybe to escape...

...No such luck. Viktor operates his business under the direction of Goran, the leader of the militia, who has been supplying most of the girls. Goran shows up with his men, and they avail themselves of the house's services while Goran and Viktor talk business. It is clear during their exchange that this is not a friendly arrangement. Goran likes having the services of the house available at his whim, but he cares no more for Viktor than he does for the girls chained up in the rooms.

Speaking of which, Vanya has a new rapist client, and after watching him kill Vanya, Angel attacks and kills him with a knife, before escaping into the walls.

The movie climaxes in an Angel hunt which leads us through the walls, out into the forest (where we see exactly what it is that Viktor does when a girl stops being useful (i.e., dies), and finally into a factory where Angel and Goran have their final showdown.

I didn't much like this movie, which is why I don't feel so bad spoiling most of it. As for the parts I didn't spoil: What happens to Viktor? What happens to Goran's other men? Does Angel escape at the end? I won't bother answering these questions. If you really want to know, you can watch it free on Netflix. However, I doubt that you do. The author of a review doesn't get to read it with virgin eyes, but I know I'm not a good salesman for the movies I don't like.

The Seasoning House is just a bad movie. There are people who liked it (apparently), but it holds a 21% on Rotten Tomatoes (which aggregates the opinions of professional critis) and 6.1/10 on IMDB (which is calculated by votes cast by John Q. Internetuser). IMDB provides a handy breakdown illustrating that all demographics rate this film around an average of 6.1, except for women under 18 who give it an 8.1. Women 45 and over liked it better, too. What is it about movies like this that makes them popular with women? My friend Merrie once told me that she views I Spit On Your Grave as a feminist revenge movie, and IMDB shows that it, too, has a high rating among young women.

The Seasoning House did not, however, remind me of I Spit On Your Grave. It reminded me of The Sinful Dwarf (mercifully rated 4.4/10 on IMDB, and liked by no particular demographic), with which it shares a lot of plot elements. The Sinful Dwarf (hereafter referred to as TSD) for the uninitiated, is one of the three movies I'd least like to watch again. Another of the three is Cannibal Holocaust, a pseudo-documentary which features a great deal of real, sadistic violence toward animals. That nobody kills an innocent sea turtle in TSD makes it seem tame by comparisson, but it's a much more insidious rape fantasy than The Seasoning House (and that is what we're talking about here: rape fantasies). In TSD, an adult of small stature and his mother kidnap young women and keep them confined and drugged in the attic where they are raped by a parade of clients, until a missing girl's boyfriend brings the police down on the operation. Watching TSD inspired an odd emotional mixture of disgust, oppression and boredom. I'm pretty sure nobody actually got raped during the production of TSD or The Seasoning House, but TSD wins because none of its actors ever worked again, including the titular dwarf who had previously been a successful children's entertainer. The Seasoning House isn't ruining anybody's career. Sean Pertwee (Goran) deserves to star in a much better film, though.

I don't want to watch this stuff. I don't want to watch bad people doing bad things to each other while spouting badly written dialogue in the service of a badly written plot. I don't. This isn't effective horror, it's just violent tedium, and I want my 98 minutes back. Same goes for The Sinful Dwarf, Cannibal Holocaust, and last year's A Serbian Film.

Oh, the third movie on my list? Beats me. TSD and Cannibal Holocaust are non-negotiable, but the third one rotates, and it's just whatever I can think of that I least want to watch at the moment. Probably something starring Rob Schneider or late-period Eddie Murphy.

Here's the trailer.

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31 Days of Halloween: The Seasoning House - Garmonbozia for the soul.

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