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BROTHEL
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Reviewed by: Mike Catalano

Directed by: Amy Waddell

Starring:
Serena Scott Thomas
Brett Cullen
Bruce Payne
Grace Zabriskie

Movie:  
star star star star
Extras:  
star star star star
Overall:  
star star star star
What's it about
After her man commits suicide, Julianne, a slightly mysterious woman, purchases an old vacant brothel with the hopes of renovating it into a bed and breakfast. However, it seems that the spirits of the madams that used to reside there still have something to say... and Julianne can't help but listen.

Is it good movie?
With a name like BROTHEL, I was expecting some sort of smutty, softcore porn flick (we have a penchant for reviewing those on occasion at AITH). Shockingly, what I got instead was a stylized, yet old-fashioned ghost story, complete with quite competent acting and a very interesting script. I also got a rather ravishing Serena Scott Thomas delivering a complex and very sultry performance.

Prostitute ghosts! Who would have thought?! Yet these sex-selling specters are ripe with spooky charm and certainly are adept at going "bump" in the night. I think it helps that the ones in BROTHEL are from the past rather than today. It lends the film an artsy aura that is thankfully short on cheese. I respected that mature nature being shown (beyond the fact that the there's clearly a fair share of fornication going on).

Another cool aspect of these ghostly ho's was that writer/director, Amy Waddell, fashioned them with sharp tongues (in a figurative sense), which led to some pretty humorous anecdotes. I definitely wasn't expecting to chuckle so much during the proceedings, but it was a welcome antidote to some of the heavier goings-on in the story. There is no confusion as to whether or not Julianne is talking to and seeing ghosts, which was refreshing. I also liked how the apparition-like presences didn't even seem to faze her. It was kind of like a twisted version of THE SIXTH SENSE.

The only thing that kind of got to me was the off-the-wall overload of visuals and plot points that sometimes came at you out of nowhere. I figured that it was all building to some sort of grand explanation, but there just seemed to be a whole lot of extra information that I had to keep track of and it didn't all fit together organically. In fact, I'm still not entirely sure where all of the proceedings were going. The extreme lack of action and suspense during the final chapter didn't help much either. Sadly, the flick kind of just ends and I thought these ho's deserved better. At least all the performances were very good.

Video / Audio
Video Widescreen 1.77:1

Audio English dolby digital.

The Extras
An interesting interview with co-star, Grace Zabriskie, who seems to be one cool, golden-era actress.

A nicely paced Behind the Scenes featurette.

The film's trailer.

Last Call
If you like your ghost stories old-fashioned, artistic, and told along the lines of a slow burn, then perhaps you should visit this BROTHEL. However, if you crave some crazy gore or action/suspense mixed in with your slutty, sex-selling specters, then you may need to move right on to the next ho shop.

ARROW IN THE HEAD'S RATING SYSTEM
star star star star I'D BUTCHER MY FAMILY TO SEE THIS AGAIN
star star star HANG ME BUT I DUG IT A LOT
star star AN OK WAY TO KILL TWO HOURS
star JUST SLING AN ARROW IN MY HEAD AND LET ME DIE IN PEACE

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