A girl decides that living with her warring parents is too stressful and decides to live with her boyfriend, squatting in a condemned block of flats. It soon becomes apparent that something very nasty is spreading throughout the flats and having a violent effect on the inhabitants. But how many of these social rejects and thumb nail sketch characters will be able to make it outside alive?
Condemned main strength is just how repulsive it looks. The creators have tried very hard to make the whole film feel sticky and filthy and horrible, and it does. You honestly feel repulsed for most of your viewing time. Now while that may not be exactly enjoyable it is impressive. I can’t think of a single film that has made me want to throw up quite this much for its entire runtime before. In some ways it’s almost a 4d film, because it feels like you can actually smell the stench and the horror of what is going on screen. And for this I applaud the production design team greatly.
However, Condemned is a troubled film. I felt like it was trying to be a few too many films at the same time. It wants to be a zombie/infection movie, while being a comedy, a straight up horror, a political satire and an enclosed drama. Had the film have stuck to maybe two of the above, I think Condemned would’ve worked much better. But as it stands the final product is quite muddled and to be honest problematic. In an attempt to portray the people that society has essentially chucked out and left to rot in this disgusting building, the film strays far too often into stereotypical and offensive characterisation tropes. We have a hideous tight fisted abusive Jewish man, we have a Nazi supporting BDSM gay couple and a screaming fake transgender person just to name some of the worst. While I can see what they were going for in general: saying that the government and society at large doesn’t care for minorities like these people, but then undercuts this genuine point by having such repulsive depictions of said minorities.
The direction for this film is quite a mixed bag, because while there are very well filmed sections within the block of all the nastiness happening there are also really poor sections. Take for example the odd use of exploring the block through the pipes which could work, but is just too cheap and tacky.
Overall, it’s certainly not a fun film to watch and it’s pretty problematic. But I can’t understate how impressed I am with the grimy aesthetic of the thing. It’s genuinely repulsive, and for that I respect this film.