Condemned is a short film by Israeli born, New York filmmaker Oren Shai. The film offers young attractive female prisoners, a harsh female night guard and a cold, grimy prison cell. Sounds like the ingredients to the recipe of a classic “woman in prison” exploitation movie doesn’t it? Quite the contrary, Condemned is missing a shower scene, a shirt ripping cat fight, and the stereotypical ultra violent guards. In place of those elements, the viewer is treated to a quiet film rife with good performances, atmosphere, and striking cinematography. The use of light and shadow play a major part in Condemned, without it the film would not be as effective. Margaret Anne Florence does a brilliant job as the paranoia plagued Female Convict #1031, fighting back her need to sleep in hopes of avoiding her inevitable end. Another aspect of this film that I LOVED was the music. Pieces from the Spaghetti Westerns Left Handed Johnny West, Colt in the Hand of the Devil, and The Last Killer are used to great effect. Oren Shai is not a name I was familiar with before watching Condemned, but I’m convinced this filmmaker will gain more notoriety as his career progresses.
Watch the teaser trailer below. Go here to learn more about the film and to check out the great lobby cards made for Condemned.
On a related note, check out Shai’s 2005 short Heavy Soul, which was described as “A Lifetime movie as directed by David Lynch, with a script by Cornell Woolrich, with a smattering of Russ Meyer and John Waters influences at the back of the palette” (John Oak Dalton, MicrocinemaScene).