Condemned kicks off with poor little rich girl Maya leaving a palatial, beachfront home in order to escape her parents constant screaming matches. She moves in with her boyfriend Dante, a squatter leaving out of a condemned shit hole in New York’s lower east side. Maya’s culture shock of leaving the penthouse for abject poverty does not even have time to register before trouble starts to brew in the form of a toxic meth lab.
On that note: Goddamn what a motley crew it is that fills up the dilapidated tenement. Behind every door lives a wretched hive of scum, including hassidic homeboys that pimp out their transexual girlfriends, junkie ex-models with track marks running up and down both arms, a building “super” whose brainwaves have been scrambled since the Carter administration, house bound hypochondriacs left to fill their adult diapers with feces while puking stale ramen noodles up in a black sludge and sadistic leather daddies who reward their musclebound slaves with the sting from their riding crop and golden nectar straight from their cock faucet.
Tying the building together is Cookie, the vietnamese meth cook with that brews up a toxic sludge in the fetid confines of his ramshackle studio apartment. Soon after Cookie dumps the noxious leftovers from his latest batch down the drains into a water supply already contaminated by human and chemical waste, the residents find themselves transformed into rage fueled monsters incapable of feeling pain but obsessed with dishing it out.
Maya’s too weak a character to attach too, as she enjoys a naive worldview just over the wrong side of annoying. She’s the kind of woman that can tell the woman looking for her next fix that it’s okay because “she’s a junkie” with all the self-awareness of a Malibu Stacy doll proclaiming “math is hard.” when you pull her string. As Maya may be the most balanced character of the lot, its up to the audience to find something else to latch onto.
Nope, the star of the show here are the special effects and makeup work that dominate the second half of Condemned when the shit (and piss and vomit and blood) hits the fan in spectacular fashion. Condemned apes the claustrophobic confines of [REC] while squaring its aim on the gag reflex of its target audience. Those who have a soft spot for gag-fueled gross out splatter affairs like Street Trash or early the Peter Jackson jam Bad Tastewill find a kindred spirit in Condemned. Though there’s a few moments marred by the distracting presence of digital blood spray, the practical effects are both plentiful and very well done.
Condemned makes a half hearted attempt at offering a moral quandary when characters debate whether to call 9-1-1 and risk the cops discovering the squat or letting one of the residents bleed out, but by and large the film just wants you to turn off your brain and enjoy the gore. There are no real characters in the film, just a collection of broadly painted stereotypes played for laughs. Or perhaps it would be more apt to describe them as what your ultra right wing uncle from the midwest pictures when he talks about the freaks and weirdoes on New York City.
That said, if you long for the anything goes style of splatter punk played for laughs, Condemned should be right up your alley. It’s goofy as hell, and exceeds at turning human flesh into gooey, pus filled bags of gristle, fat and blood.