The Seasoning House (2012)

”Comfort Women” are the forgotten victims of World War II, glossed over by the history books and denied acknowledgement by the authorities that ruined their lives.
In occupied territories such as Burma, China, Indonesia, Australia and the Netherlands to name but a few, women were taken and forced into being sex slaves in military brothels around occupied countries. Abducted from their homes by the Japanese Imperial Army and made to live a life of prostitution and confinement.
The first of these patronisingly named ”Comfort Women” were prostitutes who actually volunteered their services to the military, but unsurprisingly, there were not enough willing participants, so Japan decided to create their own supply by kidnapping unlucky females, usually by tricking them with promises of work (very different work from what they ended up doing).
This isn’t a small group of women who were raped, and violated in every conceivable way; the numbers vary from the many thousands to the hundred thousands – the exact amount of victims are still being calculated.
The survivors have never asked for compensation or for retribution, they only wish for the torture inflicted upon them to be acknowledged and condemned for what it was, something that the government has never given them, and to date has no intention of doing so, despite pressure from Amnesty International, and the rest of the world. There is still an insistence that none of the women were ‘coerced’ into being prostitutes and that it was their way of giving the soldiers a ‘rest’. In 2014 he Japanese Prime minister Shinzō Abe denied that there was evidence that the military kept sex slaves, and though the government apologised (therefore unraping all of those women and girls not yet old enough for puberty), it has not yet unreservedly admitted the blame for all those brave ladies went through.
The government are to blame yes, but so are the men who visited these establishments, buying a woman, and using her like an object, instead of a person with thoughts and feelings. Any man, soldier or civilian whose morality is overridden by his basest urges, should not be given a free pass, because ‘causalities of war’ or any of that bullshit, and should not be in charge of a pencil, never mind a weapon. Rape is rape, wherever and for whatever excuses the perpetrator has for the act.
Can you imagine being taken from your home, imprisoned in a foreign country, and forced into sexual depravities you never thought possible, countless times a day, for years. Beaten and forced into abortions when made pregnant, and when the war was over, were dropped off with their families and expected to live normal happy lives, having done something wonderful for the war effort.
Many of the women were blighted with PTSD, venereal diseases, and mental health issues following the war, and over 60 years on, the surviving ladies have become the public face of Japan’s shame.
The Seasoning House is set during the nineties in the midst of the third Balkan war. During the conflict, the militia kidnap young girls and sell them to brothels, both for soldiers and civilians. Angel, an orphaned, deaf girl is kept as a housekeeper for one such place, not considered for the sex work because of a birthmark on her face. She is made to help drug the girls, or do the jobs that their captors can’t be bothered with, and during the night scuttles around the house through the vents. A friendship with a girl who can speak sign language is the only light in her dark little world until a violent confrontation, causes the silent girl to snap and seek a bloody revenge.
Uncomfortable, brutal and unflinching in it’s portrayal of something that still happens to this day, and closer to home than you’d like to believe, the film is surprisingly respectful of it’s female characters, in terms of nudity and the gratuitousness of the sex scenes. It’s not an easy watch, and at times you have to force yourself to continue the film, but it is so worth staying with until the bitter end, trust me.
Not your typical rape and revenge feature by any means, as this is not sexploitation, or titillation for the viewer, it’s gritty, realistic, and most of all, heartbreakingly sad. Love it or loathe it, The Seasoning House is undeniably a very good film, but extremely hard to stomach in places. It is a recommended watch for any fan of horror , as it proves how versatile the genre can be, without relying on cheap tactics to keep the audience interested.
Watch but prepare for a tense, harrowing time, albeit extremely rewarding.
As Nietzsche once said ; “Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.”

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