Director: Eli Morgan Gesner
Cast: Dylan Penn, Johnny Messner, Jon Abrahams
Release Date: Now Available on Blu-ray & DVD
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 3/10
Disc Rating: 6/10
In CONDEMNED, fed up with her parents’ bickering, poor-little-rich-girl Maya (Dylan Penn) moves in with her boyfriend who is squatting in an old, condemned building on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. With neighbors that are meth heads, junkies and degenerates, this depraved hell hole is even more toxic than it appears: After a virus born from their combined noxious waste and garbage infects the building’s residents, one by one, they succumb to a terrifying pathogen that turns them into bloodthirsty, rampaging killers and transforms their building into a savage slaughterhouse.
‘Condemned’ follows young rich girl Maya (Penn) who upon finally becoming fed up with her parents constant bickering decides to take her boyfriend up on his offer of living with him. What Maya didn’t realize was that he lives with a collection of truly odd and in some instances deranged others occupying units within a condemned apartment building. Before long she begins to accept it and even enjoy the place to a degree, at least until a deadly virus is unleashed and the buildings inhabitants are trapped inside. One by one they begin succumbing to the virus and turning into rage filled and blood-spewing killers willing to take out anyone in their path. Now a group of occupants not yet infected must band together and somehow survive the carnage while trying to find a way out of the building which has now become the staging ground for a massacre.
Written and directed by Eli Morgan Gesner, ‘Condemned’ also marks his filmmaking debut both in regard to writing and directing. Gesner does a fairly capable job at the helm, selecting solid shots and utilizing an often unsettling tone. Unfortunately that is one of the only positive elements of this otherwise fairly sloppy and uninteresting film. The script is lacking and the cast which includes mostly unknown individuals with a few familiar faces sprinkled in such as Dylan Penn, Michel Gill, Johnny Messner, Ronen Rubinstein, Perry Yung, plus Jon Abrahams and a (sadly) incredibly brief role by Nick Damic; the performances for the majority disappointing and almost comical in the uncomfortably off-beat delivery aside from a few rare (and much needed) exceptions.
‘Condemned’ is quite simply, just plain bad. It delivers some solid gore effects and no shortage of carnage, although it lacks in almost every other way. The story is painfully basic and lacking any real emotional development for these two dimensional and generally unlikable characters, regardless of the fact nearly half of the film painfully attempts to develop a number of them for us, albeit unsuccessfully, largely a result of the unimpressive cast who for the most part is just hard to take seriously. Their unintentionally comedic performances drastically conflict with sequences where a more serious tone seems to be the true intention and even the fellow genre fans are likely to lose interest quickly; the gore nowhere near enough to justify the other painful elements so consistently occurring.
Overall, ‘Condemned’ is disappointing and one of the more unimpressive horror films I have had the displeasure of in recent memory. Lacking in story, as well as capable actors for the most part and providing little in addition to some solid gore effects. I would recommend avoiding ‘Condemned’, even for the fellow genre fans, the gore isn’t worth suffering through the film or coughing up the cost of a rental. If you’re intent on checking it out, maybe give it a whirl via a free streaming plan or cable when available.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Condemned’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation utilizing a 1.78:1 Aspect Ratio. The video presentation looks pretty good for the most part, delivering a sharp, detailed and fairly clean presentation throughout, holding up impressively even during the darkly lit and fast moving sequences which are quite common within the film, suffering from some brief but occasionally notable instances of banding but never resulting in anything occurring on screen to become indiscernible in the slightest. Overall, this is a pretty solid high definition video presentation suffering from only a few mild faults that won’t affect the overall viewing experience.
The Blu-ray release features a lossless 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. This lossless multichannel soundtrack is sadly quite a mess. The elements are clean, sharp and occasionally quite aggressive, although activity throughout the channels is quite commonly misplaced and/or multiplied. Dialogue which would usually be present solely in the center channel tends to regularly be present in the 2 rear channels as well, yet not the front two channels, and a number of auditory effects are quite noticeably misplaced, although all dialogue is at least consistently audible and never distorted. Overall, this is a pretty disappointing and sloppy 5.1 channel DTS-HD MA soundtrack that is sure to leave many folks quite displeased.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Condemned’ includes a few notable extras. Included on the release is the option to watch the film in ‘42nd Street Mode’ (Live Audience Commentary). Also included on the release are ‘Cast Interviews’ (running approximately 17 minutes in length), a ‘Cast Table Reading’ (approximately 1 hour and 38 minutes), and ‘TV’s “Entertainment Tonight Canada” On-Set Interview with Dylan Penn’ (2 minutes).