Each year that I take part in this whole film review pastime, I become more aware of what is going on with the horror genre, or so I think anyway. With that said, there are still quite a bit of releases that manage to fly right under my radar. Apparently, reading all of the greatest and most popular genre news sites/blogs still won’t keep you informed on 100% of the goings on, as I wasn’t really aware of Eli Morgan Gesner’s Condemned until the film was practically ready for its official home release.
Maya (Dylan Penn) has officially hit her breaking point, as her parent’s fighting seems to never cease. To get away from it all, she finally agrees to move in with her boyfriend, Dante (Ronen Rubinstein), but that’s before she realizes he lives in a rundown, abandoned and condemned building that’s occupied by a very diverse and interesting set of individuals. As the building’s waste and rot gathers in one giant cesspool of filth, the noxious fumes mix into a deadly virus that turns its inhabitants into crazed, bloodthirsty maniacs.
Due to the fact that I had never even really heard of Condemned, I really had no idea what to expect or what the film was even about. I pressed play without reading the synopsis located on the back of the Blu-ray case, as to leave that mystery intact and to perhaps prevent the possibility of ruining any kind of surprise. While the film started off somewhat slow, it did manage to pick things up about the halfway mark of its 83 minute run-time.
Condemned, being a low-budget project, contains a bit of what you’d expect from a film of its nature, but while something like sub-par acting may have been [sporadically] present, writer and director, Eli Gesner, was still able to present a rather good-looking, original story with some pretty neat cinematography and impressive practical effects.
The cast consists of mostly unknown actors, at least by me, which happens to include Michel Gill (TV’s Mr. Robot, House of Cards), Dylan Penn, daughter of prolific actor, Sean Penn, and an appearance by increasingly popular genre actor, Nick Damici (Stake Land, Late Phases). Overall, the performances were great with a few exceptions, but again, that was to be expected. The drastic personalities of the characters introduced throughout Condemned, however, keep things fresh enough to distract from some of the indie film’s minor pitfalls. For a film as small as this one, it was actually pretty surprising to witness the amount of character development presented by Gesner, a true sign that the man knows very well what he is doing. His group of misfits — junkies, meth manufacturers, pimps, S&M-loving neo-nazis, etc — was very entertaining to watch.
Condemned turned out to be a worthwhile virus flick that proves that there is still originality and creativity out there amongst genre filmmakers. Not everything has to be a remake or rehashing of old ideas and plots, and new scripts and ways to present those scripts can still be created. Don’t count the horror genre out just yet!
Available now on VOD, DVD, and Blu-ray from RLJ Entertainment, gather some friends and check out Condemned. It isn’t my favorite film to come out of 2015, but it certainly worth the watch.
I give this one 3 Gene Simmons’ edition bass guitars out of 5.