Today’s recipe: Pour a half-pint of REC or Quarantine (whichever is your preferred taste) into a large shaker; add in two shots of Rob Zombie-type characterizations and three shots of uncomfortable, intensely nasty and unsavory situations and dialogue. Shake well. Serve over three ice cubes of over-the-top, particularly oozy effects. Garnish with a smattering of Sam Raimi-esque dark comedy.
If made properly, you’ll come out with something similar to Eli Morgan Gesner’s first feature flick, Condemned.
Maya is a privileged girl, but living in a home where her parents constantly fight. We meet her in tears, talking on the phone to her rocker boyfriend, Dante; he tells her that she doesn’t have to live like that — indeed, she should come and live with him in the Big Apple. So, off the poor little rich girl goes, meeting up with Dante and his wannabe-Hendrix bandmate Loki, and Loki’s girlfriend, Alexa. After partying it up a bit, the rockin’ trio takes Maya back to their (and what is to be her) new home: a decrepit, trashed-out cesspool of an old tenement that’s been condemned by the state, but still somewhat maintained by the batty old superintendent who never left the place.
Dante and friends live here for free, albeit illegally, along with a varied assortment of other…shall we say, alternative-types. Besides Shynola, the above-mentioned super, we have Gault and Murphy, a homosexual pair heavily into dominance, submission, and Hitler…Bigfoot and Roxy, a psychotic Jewish man who’s fallen pretty damned far from his faith and his transsexual girlfriend…Tess and Vince, a former model and her boyfriend, now junkies…Cookie, the Asian chemist who specializes in designer drugs hidden in fortune cookies…and let’s not forget the strange guy who never opens his door, just peeks out of the mail slot when his motion lights go off. To begin with, Maya’s high-end sensibilities are seriously off-put by these…er…living arrangements, but she decides to go with the flow and be with Dante. Of course, that decision may not be for the best, as the torrid amount of chemicals, waste, and out-and-out filth that the tenants of this eighth-circle-of-hell building produce are all congealing in the sewers beneath, cooking up a cocktail of some gaseous infection that will soon proliferate amongst the odd mix of personalities that dwell above…
From the moment the main protagonists enter the derelict building, this film seeks out your limits in terms of content; from child molestation being mentioned in dialogue to urination fetishes to sex dolls to heavy IV drug use, senses are definitely assaulted — and I’m not even mentioning the heavy use of some of the nastiest looking FX bodily fluids I’ve seen in a while. You’ve got your projectile vomit, pus-squirting boils, oozing toilets, and spooge-soaked money hitting you from all directions. In the midst of this gross-out, there’s a story being pieced together about a group of otherwise innocent (and I use the term very loosely) young people who find themselves trapped in a situation that is life threatening and quite…gooey. Sadly, with so large a cast, we only get characterization in snippets, never really getting to know any of the characters that well; thus, I don’t really have much of an opinion as to the acting prowess of the performers, as none of them got that much time to shine in that department; suffice to say, the greasy, nasty characters (which is most of them) are suitably greasy and nasty, and the hero and heroine are sufficiently frightened, confused, and lovestruck. Some of the decisions made (or not made) are kind of contrived (why did one character lock the building up when he left? And even with that, don’t most old buildings in New York have fire escapes? How about that climbing gear that was mentioned and promptly forgotten completely about?), and some of the motivations of the characters are sketchy (one character rails on another about summoning the police…and about thirty seconds later is attempting to do so themselves).
Still, it’s a horror movie, and as you’ve all heard me say ad nauseum, good decisions make for short horror flicks. That notwithstanding, I myself would have liked a little more depth from at least a couple of the supporting cast; what little glimpses we do get add some nice dimension, but there’s no real payoff for it. Now, on to the real star of this film: I have to tip my hat to the effects in this one: gorehounds, take note! There’s a wide range of blood-spewing, gut-dragging, dismembering, puking, oozing and squirting to be had, and though there’s a touch of the digital here and there, overall it’s a well-done palette of practical gory delight.
If you’re easily offended, you should definitely shy away from this one; as I said, the introductions to the characters in the building and their mannerisms could certainly be off-putting to a pretty damned big demographic, and that’s before we even get into the blood, guts, and goo. However, I can also see where there would be a pretty sizable audience for this one, as well; I know for a fact that there’s plenty of you Fellow Fans out there that really get into the nitty-gritty, oozy-gooey flicks.
If you’re looking for a visual shock-fest and aren’t terribly concerned with a vastly original or complex story, I’d say you should check this one out.
Personally, I have to say that although it’s not one I’d line up for a lot of repeat viewings, I enjoyed the flick. While it certainly has its flaws, I found it entertaining — yeah, I might’ve felt like I needed a shower after some parts, but overall I had a good time with it — but that’s just my spin on it.
You guys all know that I’m weird. 🙂
My two cents on this one.