Condemned (Blu-ray Review)

CondemnedFed 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.



Maya (Dylan Penn) is a spoiled rich girl who can’t stand her parents and decides to leave the house and be with her squatter boyfriend and live in absolute squalor in Manhattan’s Lower Eastside. Yes, she went from being well off to homeless all over night. This new building where she and he boyfriend now live is filled with a motley crew of drug addicts, sadists, users, abusers, etc. It’s literally an asylum of sorts and how it manages to remain standing and invisible from the people outside or even law enforcement for that matter is sort of a head scratcher.

As everyone’s putrid habits of addiction and normal bodily excretions begin to merge together by way of crappy plumbing – the tenants start to become walking zombies of death. It’s up to Maya to set aside her “poor little princess” mentality and take up arms. You know, on paper Condemned sounds much better than the final film was.

Dylan Penn is nice on the eyes but she is not a good actress. In fact 99% of the actors here chew up *ahem* the scenery just for the sake of looking cool and possibly dangerous. The acting is so bad in parts that I could hardly keep watching but I did anyway. The tenants were mostly all weirdoes and the fact that a couple of them tried to be humanized by the script really didn’t do any good. The film and some of the characters motivations are just too incongruent.

Now if you take the film as a basic biological disaster film where a virus has turned the inside of an apartment into raging monsters then it might work. Condemned is like the non-found footage film version of REC but crappy. I’m sure it was an inspiration for this film but it just doesn’t get anything right outside of some cool special make-up effects and an awesome Gene Simmons AXE Bass.

If you have a couple of hours to kill then I suggest watching something else. If you must watch Condemned then I suggest skipping the film and going right to the special features for the cast/crew script reading. I’ll talk more about that in the Extras portion of this review.





Encoding: AVC/MPEG-4

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Clarity/Detail: Condemned on Blu-ray has a weird aesthetic going in that it looks ultra slick and clean one minute before looking grainy and ugly the next. I know since the film was shot on an ultra low budget it does have limitations – but since the material may call for a gradual decay of the world shown – I suspect that the aesthetic of the film is intentional. That, or it really does look inconsistent on purpose.

Depth: The film was shot in digital – it looks like any other film that has been shot in digital. The photography can look rather flat at times but that’s more of technique as opposed to the equipment.

Black Levels: There are instances of crush but they’re spread out evenly, which doesn’t make it that bad – it’s not distracting but it is there.

Color Reproduction: The color palette is nicely balanced. The streets give off an “open all night” vibe – neon comes through and gives the film a nice retro look in some areas. Condemned is a colorful picture.

Flesh Tones: Everyone looks good until they don’t look good. There are many junkies and infected folks that could necessarily be distinguished from each other if you get my meaning.

Noise/Artifacts: I’m assuming that due to stylistic purposes they decided to keep the film looking “gritty” on purpose. The grit is only present during scenes of mortal danger. I didn’t catch it during scenes of drama or general partying.




Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD MA 5.1

Subtitles: English SDH

Dynamics: Condemned might not be all that but the audio is certainly demo-worthy on this Blu-ray release. It’s an extremely aggressive beast that certainly takes no prisoners. It’s nicely balanced and neither clips or distorts.

Low Frequency Extension: The low-end subwoofer channel is downright phenomenal. You will feel that decrepit apartment crumble in addition to other sinister rumblings.

Surround Sound Presentation: The rear channels handle the creepy-crawly atmosphere and you can here shouting and ghoulish echoing throughout – the film takes place in a decaying apartment building with unsavory tenants and squatter, so there’s lots of noise to go around.

Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue levels are clean, crisp, and free from distortion.



I was surprised at the amount of extras on this Blu-ray, because Condemned doesn’t strike me as the type of flick that would get that much love in terms of special features. Granted, the majority of what’s included is fluff – the complete cast/crew script reading was quite awesome and runs longer than the final film does. The one special feature I could have done without was the obviously fake “Live Audience Commentary.” It’s composed of random people shouting and cussing. I wonder where it screened at to illicit such a response? I’m thinking they just got random folks in the studio to record the shouting, yelling, and cursing, and called it an audience commentary. There’s an Entertainment Tonight Canada segment profiling the film and Dylan Penn and an on-set interview with Penn where she talks up the great script and what she had to do to prepare for such a physical role. As I said, it’s all fluff, but the script read is great. The special features are all presented in high definition.

  • Cast Interviews (HD)
  • Script Reading (HD)
  • Watch in “42nd Street Mode” (Live Audience Commentary) (HD)
  • TV’s “Entertainment Tonight Canada” (HD)
  • On-Set Interview with Dylan Penn (HD)





Condemned is an awful film and the Blu-ray is somewhat redeemed in that it contains a pretty cool special feature of the cast doing a full script reading. Skip the film and watch that instead – I assure you that’s the better option.



Condemned is now available on Blu-ray!




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