As someone who once briefly contemplated moving into a condemned building to live in Manhattan the recent straight to DVD release Condemned was already ahead of the game based on the premise alone. That combined with a robust cast of “oh yeah! That guy!” I was primed to love this movie. Unfortunately I did not. Fortunately, I also did not hate it. Let’s take a deeper look.
The story begins when a beautiful slacker, played by the up and coming teen heart throb Ronen Rubinstein, invites his equally beautiful girlfriend, played by an amalgam of all the brothers from the 90s pop band Hansen, to flee her abusive parents and come stay with him and all of his junky friends in an abandoned building in the West Village in Manhattan. I know you’re thinking “but, Fozzie. That sounds like the start of every successful power couple I’ve ever heard of. What could possibly go wrong?” As it turns out, a lot. For starters everyone who lives in the building has their personal demons and they insist on flushing those problems down the drain. In one apartment an abusive Rabbi flushes his transsexual hooker/girlfriend’s pills down the drain while in another a drug dealer/restaurateur spills his leftover Junk in the bathtub. One resident on the ground floor is the first recipient of this vile concoction and does nothing but sit on the toilet and cry while listening to Christmas music. Think Martha Stewart on New Year’s Day. It seems the combination of all the various flotsam and jetsam flushed down the drain has coalesced into a powerful drug that not only causes violent delusions but also causes really gross boils to break out all over the recipient’s body.
Our main power couple, Dante and Maya (heretofore refered to as Mante), are blissfully unaware of the growing infection spreading through the building as they begin making a home in the squat. When the owner of the building locks the door and is quickly accidentally killed, all hell breaks loose. Residents begin lashing out at each other violently and gruesomely as Mante become caught in the middle. They must successfully avoid being killed and infected while trying to find a way out of the building.
To borrow a format from friend of the blog, Deadly Dolls….
The good: You can tell that all of the actors in the film are professionals. Some you will recognize, such as Johnny Messner who plays a sadomasochistic leather daddy to his muscle bear slave. Others are newcomers but are obviously destined for fame, like the aforementioned Rubinstein. Either way everyone in the film is giving it their all and not one disappoints. The acting complements the writing, which is on point and at times really funny. Additionally the film is both a scathing indictment of the gentrification of Manhattan and a sobering view of the rose colored past that people tend to sweeten.
The bad: The nihilism of junky life is not something I can connect with. I would honestly rather be in a zombie apocalypse than a crack house so this movie is essentially my worst nightmare. And not in a way that I enjoy seeing on screen. Also if you’ve ever seen a movie I bet you can guess how this one ends.
The ugly: All of it. From the strung out drug addicts to the pus filled boils to the junky lifestyle everything in the film is simply gross. That’s not to say that it’s not enjoyable. If you can get past the putrescence there’s a fair amount of good film here as well as a lot of likable actors. Even if this film did not hit the mark I see a lot of promise in the cast as well as the director.
Final grade, **/*****
RELEASE DATE: November 13, 2015
DIRECTOR: Eli Morgan Gesner
WRITER: Eli Morgan Gesner
CAST: Dylan Penn, Ronen Rubinstein, Lydia Hearst, Jon Abrahams, Honor Titus, Genevieve Hudson-Price
SYNOPSIS: 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.
DISTRIBUTOR: RLJ Entertainment