Wednesday, May 7, 2014

A review of "The Seasoning House"

Confessions of a Film Junkie: A review of “The Seasoning House”

By: Brian Cotnoir

     Why does every film set in the Balkans have to be so d@mn depressing?  According to every film set there, everyone’s either a war criminal or a sex slave.  Granted, the Balkans is an area known to be a place of great conflict and political unrest, but come on can we cut that region a break?  There’s got to be more to the Balkans than just war, genocide, and human trafficking.  I truthfully want to believe that it can’t be like that there all the time, so to the filmmakers of the world, could someone please try to make a film about the Balkans that isn’t depressing as all hell? I’m sure they’d really appreciate that, thanks.      
So the film I’m reviewing today is called “The Seasoning House”. It is set in the Balkans in the year 1996, and it follows a young girl called “Angel”.  Angel is a deaf-mute and was kidnapped by a group of soldiers during the Balkan Conflict; her mother was murdered right in front of her.  She is taken to a man named Viktor to be used as a prostitute.  Viktor decides not to force her to work as a prostitute, and instead makes Angel his caretaker.  Her jobs consist of keeping the—rundown and dilapidated—house clean, and injecting the other girls with heroin to numb them out while various men pay to have sex with them.  When Angel is not taking care of the house or the girls, she is usually wandering through the wall and the air ducts of the home, for no particular reason.  At one point, Angel befriends one of the new girls at the house named Vanya.  Vanya is able to communicate with Angel because she knows sign language.  Vanya and Angel become very close, but one day Vanya is beaten and raped to death by a brutish soldier, and that’s when Angel decides to take her revenge.    She escapes from the house and pretty soon she has a small group of soldiers pursuing her, and wanting to kill her.               
It's a hard knock life for...everyone in this region
    The plot of this film is depressing, but it’s been done to death before.  It’s the story of a girl kidnapped from her family and forced into a life of hard labor and other demeaning acts, that eventually leads up to the girls planned revenge and escape.  It’s all too predictable and cliché.  Once Angel escapes from the house that’s when the film goes from okay to boring. I found the cast of “The Seasoning House” performed their roles very well.  For one thing, every character spoke with the correct accent in this film, and I liked that because nothing annoys me more than watching a film set in 18th Century France and only one person speaks with a French Accent while everyone else in the film is talking with a British or American accent.        
An unlikely friendship in a difficult situation
The role of Angel is played by actress Rosie Day, and you would think playing the role of a character who cannot speak would be easy, but it’s actually not. She has to convey everything about her and her emotions into facial expression and body movements.  We learn most of her background in the film from seeing it through the perspective of flashbacks.  One thing they did in the film that I really liked and thought was a good idea is that whenever they were showing something from Angel’s Point of View there was no sound, so it almost made you feel like you were seeing things happening from her perspective.  I have to give credit to Rosie Day for doing a great job with this role.     
You're a complex character, Viktor
                 The other major character in this film is Viktor, who is played by actor Kevin Howarth.  What they did with Viktor’s character that I liked is they made him very complex.  Most of the film I couldn’t tell if he was supposed to be a villain or an anti-hero.  When we first see him in the film, it is right after a new batch of girl’s are brought to his place.  He looks at them and tells them that they can forget about their old lives and just give up hope, because no one is coming to rescue them.  To assert his point even further, he takes one of the girls and slits her throat right in front of the others.  Then you see him in other scenes with Angel, and he appears to be very protective of her.  He tells all the men who come to the house to leave her alone and not bother her.  He confesses to Angel that he loves her and wants to run away with her someday, but then he does something awful like rape her (which is not shown in the film, but is implied) and then he hunts her after she escapes.  I’m glad the films screenwriters decided to make him more complex of character rather than just straight out villain because it kept things interesting for a while.  As for the rest of the cast they’re all pretty forgetful.               
     If you want to check out this film, I won’t dissuade you.  It’s not a bad film, but it’s not that original of a story.  I guess that’s a problem when you have 4 different screenwriters working on a screen play.  I think if you like stories that are very character driven you will like “The Seasoning House”, but other than that I don’t see this film appealing to a wider audience.

1 comment:

  1. Feeling gloomy just reading this review. Good analysis though!