Condemned (2009) - By Duane L. Martin
Date: Friday, January 01, 2010 @ 20:09:36 Mountain Standard Time
Topic: Film Reviews


The last film I reviewed from Oren Shai was back in 2006.  It was a film called Heavy Soul, and as soon as I saw it, I could tell that Mr. Shai was an incredibly talented film maker with a great eye for creating striking visuals.  Now he's send me his latest short film, Concemned, starring Margaret Anne Florence as prisoner #1031.  I'm going to start this off by using the description of the film from IMDB, because it's probably a less convoluded description of the story than I'd end up writing myself.
"1959. Desperate, branded, forgotten by the law, Female Convict #1031 fights to stay alive in the concrete womb. Condemned by her fellow inmates and in her own mind, #1031 expects the worst. When a new inmate, Laura (#1059), is brought into the cell, #1031's paranoia grows. Is this striking Blonde to be her ally, or possibly, her executioner?"

This film once again was incredibly striking visually.  The darkness and shadows throughout the film create a real feeling paranoia and impending doom.  The visuals are only accented by the acting by the three person cast.  Margaret Anne Florence is excellent as the paranoid and brooding prisoner.  Ashlie Atkinson plays a humorless and unsympathetic night guard who comes around now and then just to add to the gloomy mood of not only the prisoner, but of the film as a whole.  Aprella plays Laura, the second prisoner who's brought in to be #1031's cell mate, who only adds to #1031's paranoia.  The entire cast did a great job.  However...

While the film is visually very striking, the story left me utterly confused.  #1031 says she was set up and that the warden and guards are all in on it.  At some point she inexplicably feels the need to take off her shoe and proceeds to slice the bottom of her foot open with a piece of broken glass.  Then the other prisoner is brought in, and again, I just didn't get their interactions.  #1031 seems really suspicious of her, but I don't know why.  I guess because she thinks she's a plant by the people who supposedly set her up?  I really didn't understand it.  I'm sure the film's director Oren Shai could explain it to me because he made the film, but as a viewer without the film maker's insight, I was feeling pretty lost.

This film, while visually stunning, was lacking in clarity as far as the story.  The film itself is a short, coming in at fourteen minutes, but I'm not sure more length would have fixed the confusion with the story.  I think it just could have used a little more clarity in the writing.  Still, despite that confusion, there's no denying that the quality of the production and the excellent acting makes the film a very gripping experience.  Something about it just grabs you and doesn't let go until it's over.

Oren Shai has once again presented us with a beautifully produced film and shown us how visuals should be done.  The set wasn't complicated, but the use of light, shadow and narration by the prisoner really set an amazing mood for the film, and it's definitely worth checking out.

If you'd like to find out more about this film, you can check it out on Oren Shai's website at http://www.rockingoren.com.









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