Director Eli Morgan Genser makes his feature film debut with his own script of a sickening story filled with many gag inducing elements, but doesn’t lead into the realm of torture porn, rather develops an interesting splatter punk and gore hound delight all from a man whose previous work centered on the documentaries. His movie generates thoughts of Bad Taste (1988), all swirling over steaming piles of rotting garage and other chemicals that create the most unbearable neighbors and hideous monsters, and unleashed from RLJ Entertainment.
The majority of the film surrounds a teenage girl, Maya (Dylan Penn), who’s home life, as far as she’s concerned, has become a rotting existence with parents who argue and bicker and desperate for a Dr. Phil intervention, and seeking to both escape and secretly teach them a lesson she flees to her boyfriend Dante’s (Ronen Rubinstein) home. The director uses the vastness of idyllic images to show the richness of Maya’s life and the overtones of issues, in the background, and quickly the shockingly display of the filth and potential horror show for both the audience and Maya. Upon her journey she meets Vince (Jon Abrahams) and Tess (Lydia Hearst), a former model, now covered with track marks, and gives a warm and happy glow remarks rebuffed with hatred and disgust. This all leads the viewers to see that Maya truly is a spoiled rich girl, impervious to others plights. The condemned building, barred and looking unsanitary yet home to a collection of truly unruly and odd individuals looking to for their own escape from realism and society’s woes. Quickly, the insanity strikes an unhappy cord with Maya, wondering why they live they the way they do, and culture shock and classism issue too, the blinders stripped away showing how many living like animals and suffering for choices in their lives and other feeding off the reign of power they wield over the weaker species. Genser uses a wonderful method of the interconnected drainage system to meet each of the countless and quirky characters in the well-paced flow to the story, two muscled bound Neo-Nazi gay men Gault and Murphy (Johnny Messner and Michael Demello, respectively, and properly address as the dominant and submissive, followed by a diaper wearing secluded Shynola (Anthony Chisholm). However not to be out done, an excessive sweaty druggie named appropriately Bigfoot (Jordon Gelber) and his transvestite whore slave Roxy (Kevin Smith Kirkwood), with the sympathy for him and willingness to please, all customers along with Tess to Cookie (Perry Yung) a fortune cookie drug pusher pouring messed up batches down the pipes of the building. Dante introduces Maya to his roommates Alexa (Genevieve Hudson-Price) rock star wannabe Loki (Honor Titus). This encounter sets a great exchange between Loki and Maya concerning guitar axe of Gene Simmons and her response “what does he have… with music, isn’t he a reality star?” her ignorance naïve manners extend to putting trash on the curb, only to a confrontation of the reasons not to for fear of police to a condemned building. Soon enough the carnage starts, the toxic and chemical backup begin to induce doomsday scenarios of pus popping, ranting, maniacs who feel no pain but dish it in phenomenal excess and with spraying bodily fluids, rampaging insanity all for gore-hounds delights.
Maya’s character is the only one that comes close to caring for, and that too becomes a strain, her ignorance and petty concepts weigh on everyone, the reasoning for Dante as the boyfriend escapes rationale, but love is blind. The casting of movie, focuses on this character, and why not as she’s the daughter of Sean Penn and Robin Wright, in her first feature, an independent ultra-low budget horror movie, who else has that avenue worked well for, ah yes, Jamie Lee Curtis, enough said. She does a convincing job of successful screams, an innocence awaiting corruption, and frenzied panic when all the chaos starts unfolding at a feverish pace. Meanwhile, Ronen does an admiral job of caring about his girlfriend, yet still behaves a bit pigheaded on various issues, and possessive to a fault. An issue though, the lack of sympathy for a character that audience needs to root for and care deeply what happens to them, such as a humbled mother, once abused with a child, none of that exists, no one to champion for success. The likable of these many personalities’ struggles, Gault (Messner) comes across as dictator with full understanding of his position and intelligence to the others in the building, air of superiority rooted deeply in his character, yet still portrays typical clichés. In addition, Gesner misses the opportunity to show the transition of wealth and means to middle class and then cascading into the grim of what is the living hell the wretches call home.
A gross, gore sequence runs amok by the end of the movie for the sickening gags of endless forms of human fluids smearing the floors and walls, in various degrees from freakish situations, and these all occur from steady special effects, for many to enjoy, if they can. Many practical effects dot the film, with projectile vomit and blood is fantastic forms chasing away the weak stomach crowd by the second half of the movie.
Inexperience in the filmmaking always leads to issues with a movie, regardless of the well placed intentions, and occurs with the lack of a likable character, then again, if the reason was to show the survivability in a claustrophobic situation then think of Quarantine (2008). Nevertheless, Condemned does deliver a sloppy slippery blood shedding that embolden b-movies for years, and herein the ideal concept ignores the morals, and dive to a swimming pool of gore enjoyment, for the true slick sick horror fans.
This review was originally published in January 2016 on the now defunct Rogue Cinema website with a view count of 1,842.
IMDb Rating: 3.6/10
Baron’s Rating: 3.5/10