FILM INFO: From San Quentin's death row, a convicted killer tells the gripping, tragic story of his life and crimes. When the day of his execution arrives, something extraordinary happens and the space between life and death isn't so clear.
WRITTEN BY: Legrand McMullen DIRECTED BY: Steven Biver GENRE: Drama TIME: 14 minutes
If someone had told me a few days ago I would completely enjoy a one room monologue, as a short film and not an audition of some sort, I probably would have sarcastically laughed them off as crazy. One actor, one location? How could a person deem this as actual entertainment? Even with a great premise I was skeptical. It would take an excellent actor to pull off the concept "Condemned" promises to deliver. It would take some good writing to make it believable, and some excellent timing in order to have it flow properly. Not something a single location and one lonely actor could easily pull off. Director Steven Biver had his work cut out for him. "Condemned" is set up like a reality, interview styled short. The viewer is meant to think these are the recorded, final words of a convicted killer and that somewhere in the background, a man sits behind the camera giving the interview. This is not the case. However, the fiction written by Legrand McMullen is a good one. A story that could easily be a true tale, and one that plays with no hints that it isn't. "Condemned" spins a sad story on so many levels, from the condemned himself, to his family and of course... his victims. The technicalities of this production leave very little to write about. Being the format it is, you would simply set up, light and shoot. I have no complaints. The video is nicely done and the audio is clear and crisp. The editing is nicely cut in a way that pushes the narrative forward, never attempting to be to flashy or quick. For what it is, things flow nicely and to the point. My only real slight complaints are with the current description used for the film. You can read it by looking over to the left. Without going into specifics, it implies a... happier ending than the one we get. In reality, there was nothing extraordinary about the conclusion, for me anyhow. It was just what I thought it would be. This by no means slights the grim feeling I had when "Condemned" ended, it's just the fact it simply implied a different outcome. That bothered me. My other concern was with the use of the inserts. Again, I'll let future viewers decide for themselves what the problems are... but for me, at times, the inserts just felt off and wrong. Like they were memories of someone else, not related to this film at all. Again, for the viewer to decide. Let's briefly talk about Daniel Wyland, who portrays the lead (and only) character. In a nutshell? Excellent job all around! This entire production rested on Mr. Wyland's acting shoulders, and he in no way let me down. His performance was admirable and completely believable, bringing the dialog from the page to life. As I wrote above, excellent job. "Condemned" was a surprisingly entertaining piece of dramatic fiction. You, as the viewer will find yourself forgetting this isn't a real case. To be blunt and to close off this write-up, let's just say this: Watch when you can. This is one of "those" indie shorts that will actually leave you with an emotion to deal with. What emotion? You'll have to watch and find out for yourself.