Very few movies can leave someone emotionally and physically exhausted from simply watching them. The Seasoning House is the latest film to actually capture this. Angel is a young women forced into working for a man named Viktor, who runs a brothel full of young women that caters to the military. After seeing her mother shot to death by said military, as if things could not get much worse, mute Angel is then rejected as being a prostitute due to a birthmark on her face. Instead, she spends her time cleaning the working girls, and doping them up for their duties.
Most movies these days do not require the viewer to have any emotional input. The Seasoning House demands the viewer become involved. It is brutal, realistic, and induces incredible heartache and rage. With the simple set up of mute Angel just trying to stay alive by doing what she is told is enough to create a good atmosphere, but adding the friendship between Angel and Vanya, a young lady who can sign, pushes the movie to the revenge level needed. Yes, Angel gets revenge on the evil men that have trapped and brutally raped the girls in the house. And, as stated, it is an exhausting set of events that lead to it.
It isn’t so much the fact that the military personnel are simply raping the girls, either. While that is terrible enough, The Seasoning House delves deeper, having these men retreat into a feral level of violence during their heinous acts. Faces are beaten, pelvises are broken. It is raw and disgusting. All of this is exactly what gives seemingly complacent Angel the right ammo to turn on these men – and she does so brilliantly – right up to the end. After her exhaustively long escape, the ending of The Seasoning House – where the viewer can finally take a deep breath and sigh of relief – is truly heartbreaking. Without giving the ending away, I can only equate the last scene, for those who will understand the reference, to the Sarah’s chase in Suspiria.
It has been a long time since I felt personally invested in a movie. Rosie Day captures the character of Angel beautifully, which ensures the emotional investment of the viewer. Everything about The Seasoning House is gritty and real. There were moments where the set alone had me distracted. Walls are filthy, floors have dust and grime. The girls are exactly the same. Scenes of Angel cleaning the dirt from the girls’ arms and hands, or painting their faces with makeup, are each given an eerie echo later in the film. Seemingly gentle and loving characters are shown to have their own dark sides. Every single little element is thought about – and not on a level that makes it obvious and pompous. What makes The Seasoning House stand out is that everything about it is simple and done in a way that just results in the proper definition of art.