Fed up with her parentsbickering, poor-little-rich-girl Maya (Dylan Penn) moves in with her boyfriend, who is squatting in an old condemned building on Manhattan 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 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.
In the film,CONDEMNED, Maya may come from a wealthy family, however their are problems at home. In fact, her parents argue so frequently, that it gets to the point where she can't take it anymore. The beginning of the film sees Maya reach her breaking point, when she packs it all up and moves in with her boyfriend Dante. The problem is however, Dante himself doesn't have a stable place to stay, in fact, he has been squatting in an a somewhat abandoned apartment building with his friends. Abandoned since the 1970s, the building located on New York's Lower East Side, has stood rotting, but that hasn't stopped a wide variety of people from inhabiting it. From junkies, burnouts, drug dealers, and prostitutes, all are well represented within the old building. It's a definite culture shock for Maya. but nonetheless, she settles in as best she can. Meanwhile, the dirty, unsanitary practices of those who live in the building become apparent. Seeing as no one is supposed to live there, the inhabitants often dispose of their varying wastes in a number of ways not exactly safe. Human waste, drugs and chemicals. As the film plays out, their actions come back to haunt them, when the combined waste, makes way for a flesh eating disease. A disease that also makes its carriers ravenousness and blood hungry. As the residents begin to turn on one another violently, both Maya and Dante hope to get out while they still can. If that is possible.
Well, talk about going from one bad situation to another. That is exactly what occurs to Maya, a character in CONDEMNED, a film that was both written and directed by Eli Morgan Gesner. On the surface, CONDEMNED is very much not unlike many of the outbreak films that we have seen. Someone within an area gets infected by an unknown virus, it spreads fast, and then all hell breaks lose. That is what we have here, as the core plot is fairly cut and dry. However, there is a flavor that Gesner is attempting to instill here, and for that I can give him credit. When it comes to CONDEMNED, it has a real Punk Rock, raw, "do it yourself" look and feel. I liked that. While, I personally am not one to rock a several inch-long Mohawk, or anything like that, I do love my Punk. So, from the beginning, I picked up on exactly what it was that the filmmakers were going for. Story-wise, the way in which CONDEMNED progresses, is most similar to DIY films, like STREET TRASH, and SLIME CITY. It definitely aims for that same type of visual gore, and griminess. So, with that said, on look and feel alone, it succeeds, but as far as overall, as a whole, the film comes up a little short on a number of fronts.
First, the film does a good enough job at setting the stage, and introducing us to the characters and their surroundings. We get what kind of people they are, and we take note of just how bad their living situation is, but that's just about it when it comes to the characters. Not one of them is likable, or even remotely sympathetic in the least. Not even the main character "Maya"(played by Lydia Hearst), or her boyfriend, "Dante"(played by Ronen Rubenstein), whom we are supposed to invest in. Sure, Hearst is attractive, but that has nothing to do with the character, or story at hand. We just never care about anyone here, and basically just watch as they deteriorate and destroy one another. And going back to the idea that CONDEMNED is similar to just about every other outbreak film, it doesn't help it's cause that it plays out like most, as well. Even ending in such a way which we have come to expect. As far as overall plot, it's fairly by-the-numbers, routine, in that there are no real surprises or anything to set itself apart from others. Things happen, people become infected, and those lucky enough to remain uninfected, hope to survive. Plot wise, not sure what could have been done, but I just wish that there had been more too it. Maybe even still. it could have been interesting, if also the performances were even a little bit compelling. Yes, some of the performances in CONDEMNED are over the top, some are better than others, but the common thing with them is that no one really stands out, as to make them memorable. Because of this, I come away with only 2 things; one it's a film with a nice approach, and the other being that it is a film in which, some people become infected and die in a number of ways. That's all.
While I won't say that CONDEMNED in particular is a film that had the potential to be great, as for that it would probably need something radically different added to the mix, but yeah. it probably could have been better. As is, it's a film that is style over substance. It has good visuals, but really thin characters, who are void of most everything. Emotion is true when it comes to the film's 2 lead characters.
5/10 The depiction of multiple blisters/sores as well as other breakouts. There are several bloody wounds including impalements, even a disembowelment. The effects done on an obvious low budget, still look good, however.
IMPRESSION OF THE FILM
Like I said about CONDEMNED, when it comes to its look and approach, I can appreciate it. But when it comes down to facts, it is a film that has little about it that would be considered "original". In fact it's one that essentially goes nowhere with its plot, aside from the obvious stops. While I hate to be overly negative, CONDEMNED just offers very little in terms of "new" to the virus outbreak Horror sub-genre.
This film will be released on Blu-Ray and DVD on January 5, 2015