M.L. Miller here! As I go into the tenth year of reviewing horror films, I wanted to go back to the beginning and repost some of the films I loved. Moving on to Year Four of my year-long Retro-Best in Horror I’m recapping the Countdown beginning officially on October 1, 2013 and going through September 30, 2014. I have posted compilation lists in the past, but a lot of those old reviews haven’t seen the light of day since they were first posted many moons ago. Being the OCD person that I am, I have also worked and reworked the list, looking back at my own choices and shifting them around, and even adding a few that I might have missed or looked over from the year in question. So, if you think you know how these lists are going to turn out, you don’t!
How did I compile this list? I simply looked through films released between October 1st, 2013 and September 30, 2014 and worked and reworked the list until I had the magic number—31. Again, I never call myself any kind of expert in horror. I simply watch a lot of horror films and love writing about them. Don’t forget to like and share my picks with your pals across the web on your own personal social media. Chime in after the review and let me know what you think of the film, how on the nose or mind-numbingly wrong I am, or most importantly, come up with your own darn list…let’s go!
Released on December 10, 2013. Available on digital download, On Demand, and DVD/Blu-ray!
THE SEASONING HOUSE (2012)
Directed by Paul Hyett
Written by Paul Hyett & Conal Palmer
Starring Rosie Day, Sean Pertwee, Kevin Howarth, Anna Walton, Jemma Powell
Find out more about this film here
If you’re able to stomach the first half of THE SEASONING HOUSE, you’re going to be surprised at the levels of awesome the film climbs to in the latter half.
Set in the Balkans, a small town is ravaged by the military and the women are gathered together in a dingy brothel to service the soldiers and basically have a horribly shitty life. One such young lady is Angel (Rosie Day), a mute and deaf girl who works for the owner of the brothel Viktor (Kevin Howarth) to drug up the women with heroin so they don’t panic and comply to the insistent and less than gentle soldiers who frequent the place. Angel attempts to help these women who have been chained to the bed, bringing them drugs, water, food, and medical supplies when necessary. When the soldiers who killed her own family come to the brothel led by the evil Goran (Sam Pertwee), Angel decides to fight back.
It was very hard for me to write that description, probably because the first forty-five minutes of this film is a difficult pill to swallow. There is rape. There is torture. There is pure and utter disregard for human beings in the filthiest of ways. The first 45 of this film is the dingy kind of stuff that make torture porn the four-letter word it is today, and this film unblinkingly shows us all parts of it. It was right about the time when a soldier breaks a woman’s pelvis that I was getting ready to shut it off (even I have limits), but I’m glad that I didn’t because this story takes a turn at minute 45 that turns this torture porn flick into an uber-intense thriller.
Traveling through the innards of the house, through ventilation ducts and crawlspaces, Angel is able to go where no full-sized man can ever go. She takes advantage of this as she sets out to kill the soldiers who are abducting the women, picking them off one by one in a game of cat and mouse that I haven’t seen play out more fascinatingly since DIE HARD. Angel is like a little ninja as she silently makes her way through the house and creeps up on the men for vengeance.
The thing is, this vengeance is gory and bloody and utterly horrific, but after having experienced the terrors that these men inflicted upon these women, dammit if it didn’t feel good to see this little girl take these macho men down one by one. The film turns into a hard R rated game of TOM & JERRY as the men twirl in circles trying to track down the silent tot. I can’t help but admire the way filmmaker Paul Hyett manipulates us, submerging us into the depths for the first half, only to turn the audience into Angel’s cheerleaders in the last.
The effects in THE SEASONING HOUSE show the kind of grue and carnage that few films have been able to do in such a realistic fashion. Angel slices through cheeks and faces in the most awkward of ways. Blood spurts all over the floors and walls, making walking impossible and grasping this little whirlwind with a knife even more impossible. It’s the jagged and unclean way the gore is handled in THE SEASONING HOUSE that makes it all the more effective.
The final moments of this film had me riveted to my TV screen. The intensity as Goran and his soldiers close in on Angel is the kind I rarely see in films these days. THE SEASONING HOUSE is not a film for the weak of heart or the frail of stomach, but it is a powerful movie that is sure to cause a reaction in your gut and heart. The horrors we survive in the first half of the film are only director Paul Hyett’s way of setting us up for one of the more satisfying endings I’ve seen in a film in years. Perfectly realized, THE SEASONING HOUSE is one of those roller coasters that has you cursing yourself for ever getting on the ride, but ends with a satisfied feeling that makes you want to do it all over.
THE 2013-2014 COUNTDOWN!
M. L. Miller is a wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of MLMILLERWRITES.COM. Follow @Mark_L_Miller.
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