By Don Simpson | May 6, 2013
Director: Roberto Busó García
Writers: Roberto Busó-García, Danielle Schleif, Luis R. Trelles
Starring: Cristina Rodlo, René Monclova, Axel Anderson, Marisé Álvarez, Rocky Venegas, Luz Odilea Font, Dolores Pedro, Daisy Granados, José Caro
Ana (Cristina Rodlo) travels to the remote town of Rosales, Puerto Rico in the hopes of turning her family’s long-abandoned mansion into a museum honoring her dying father’s (Axel Anderson) medical legacy. Rosales is the hometown of Ana’s mother, and it is where Ana’s parents first met and eventually married. Most importantly, Rosales is where Ana’s father opened his first free clinic for cancer research.
Ana clearly expects a glowing reception for her father, but the reaction of the locals to his reappearance is quite the opposite. At first, Ana convinces herself that this is due to the impoverished locals’ jealousy of her family’s fortune, so she focuses on public relations and marketing to remind the locals of her father’s importance. When that only makes matters worse, Ana finally opens her eyes to the skeletons that have been locked away for years in her family’s proverbial closet. That right there seems to be the sole purpose of The Condemned, to force Ana to face the guilt of her family’s history; though it also functions as a very subtle condemnation of American doctors who used Latin Americans as lab rats for their medical research.
Roberto Busó García’s The Condemned focuses only on atmosphere and tone, causing the narrative to trudge along at a snail’s pace. Probably the most subdued haunted house film in the history of cinema, do not get fooled into thinking The Condemned is going to be scary. Of course there is a token plot twist — I had to watch it twice to figure out exactly what happened — which the audience’s acceptance of will determine their enjoyment. There are, however, some camera movements that make this entire film a worthwhile viewing experience for those interested in such things, and the production design is absolutely gorgeous.