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The Pigs Have It.

The Seasoning House of the title is a Balkans Brothel, it’s 1996 and young girls are being kidnapped during military attacks and sold to the owner of the Seasoning House. One such girl is Angel, a death and mute sufferer who the house owner takes a shine to and uses her as his assistant. When Angel strikes up a friendship with one of the girls, it is the catalyst for violence unbound.

A thoroughly bleak and distressing viewing experience, but in turn it’s also bold and brilliant film making. Debut director Paul Hyett paints a grim portrait of an all too real problem in certain parts of the world, but thankfully he never once lets the material slip into exploitation territory.

The brothel is unsurprisingly an utterly desperate place, rife with squalor and abject misery. The windows are boarded up with crooked pieces of wood, the beds are filthy, the walls stained with years of dirty grime and the after effects of vile human actions. The girls are battered and bruised, chained to the beds and injected with drugs to make them compliant towards anything the human monsters so wish to do to them.

For practically 70 minutes we the viewers are holed up in this awful place along with the girls. Daylight is only briefly glimpsed through the window shards, we can smell the fear along with the dankness, and claustrophobia is rife. Angel (a brilliant Rosie Day) is our conduit as Hyett builds relationships between her and the two other main characters. Viktor (Kevin Howarth) the ruler of this vile kingdom, and inmate Vanya (Dominique Provost-Chalkley), the latter of which is deeply touching and superbly crafted by those involved.

Film then switches in tone after some truly awful scenes have paved the way for what transpires in the final third of the story. This switch to more conventional horror cinema has proven divisive, but the way Angel moves about the house, how she finds fortitude, is fascinating, and she has well and truly earned our utmost support as she seeks to erase some dastardly evil wrongs from history (headed by a suitably scary Sean Pertwee). This is not a cheap rape revenger movie, it’s a survivalist horror, and some of the horrors inherent in The Seasoning House are tough to stomach, but necessary to balance the art and the reality. Stunning. 9/10

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