Condemned starts off as what I thought would be an anthology concentrating on the freaks and junkies that live in the condemned apartment block and to be perfectly honest I was all in when I thought this was the case, it was weird, a little bit confronting and felt like it could be an Arthouse horror gem. However as the movie went on it turned out to be something different and far more generic.
The film follows Maya (Penn) who runs away from her bickering parents to live with boyfriend Dante (Rubinstein) and his roommates Alexa (Hudson-Price) and Loki (Titus) in a condemned building. Throughout the opening 10 minutes we meet a selection of the other residents, a junkie couple, a Jewish man and his transsexual hooker girlfriend, a gay body building couple into the Dom and Sub lifestyle and the buildings super and the resident meth cook. As always you can’t trust a drug cook as he pours the leftover product down the drains which react with the squalid conditions and turn the residents into kill crazy psychos, oh yeah and the front door has been locked. So yep you’ve seen how this will end up…
Gesner does do some inventive things with the camera which keeps things interesting and the film for the first 30 minutes has a really good weird and unsettling atmosphere that unfortunately doesn’t carry through, however there is plenty of gore and blood on display, some good, some a little but too ambitious for the budget. The story has some big logic leaps and none of the characters really get much development.
The acting varies from woeful to decent but the main players do a good job for the most part. (On a personal note it was interesting to see Honor Titus in the film as he is the frontman for the awesome punk group ‘Cerebral Ballzy’ and it was cool to see him in a film).
As mentioned before Condemned could have been a nasty little slice of horror if it had held its course, unfortunately it fell back on a well worn and tired plot which quickly used up the goodwill it developed early. There might just be some social commentary on rich vs poor divide and affordable housing…if you look hard enough, The film is not awful and in fact some aspects are very well done but it can’t overcome the fact that you’ve seen this all a thousand times before.