Director – Alejandro Hidalgo
Cast – Ruddy Rodriguez, Rosmel Bustamante, Adriana Calzadilla, Simona Chirinos, Gonzalo Cubero, Guillermo Garcia
Release Year – 2014
Reviewed by John of the Dead
I had been waiting for this film to release on Video on Demand formats ever since its many positive reviews after debuting (in the US) at the Frightfest Film Festival earlier this year. This marked my first time viewing a Venezuelan horror film, and pardon my ignorance but I was unaware that Venezuela put out horror films to begin with. Going into this flick I was expecting a supernatural tale heavy in ghosts and paranormal activity, but what I was given turned out to be so much more than that. The House at the End of Time uses its supernatural elements in a manner I was not expecting, which is partly my fault because I expected the usual cliches seen in other Spanish language horror films. What we are given here is an emotionally absorbed story that moonlights as a typical spookfest, excelling at both, and making this one of my favorite horror films of 2014.
Thirty years ago Dulce suffered the effects of a supernatural presence that left her husband dead. Convicted of his murder, she has been released to spend her remaining days in her old home, where she will once again face the forces that haunted her thirty years prior.
The opening sequences takes nearly seven minutes to complete, and it will leave you sucked in for everything else writer/director Alejandro Hidalgo has to offer. To begin the film the older, post-thirty-year-incarcerated Dulce is released from prison and reluctantly brought to her home. It is obvious that she is uneasy about returning to the location of such despair, and it is also obvious that the demons, which she referred to as “intruders” have been waiting for her. With the unsolicited help of a local priest who took an interest to the strange circumstances behind the murder, she begins to piece together what exactly happened that night, and how she can fix the past. I mentioned before that this is much more than a supernatural film. Without giving too much away I will say that the story uses time in a very unique manner. For the first two acts you will likely be confused about what is going on, but the third act ties everything together in what I can only describe as a “beautiful” manner.
So is this even a horror film? Heck yes it is. The first act plays off like the traditional haunted house flick, but as the story progresses it loses that element and ventures into a time / reality-bending theme that had me glued to the screen. We are still provided scares during this progression, but keep in mind they are of a different nature. It would be safe for me to say that the horror is toned down a bit after the first act, but the tension remains high and that should do enough to keep you on edge. I keep saying it, but this story is more than what it appears to be. It is an emotional film as much as it is a ghost flick, and to be honest this is one of the few genre films to make me genuinely sad. I would call this a good kind of sad, but nonetheless…it’s not often a flick leaves me feeling this way. Bonus points for the unique experience.
Alejandro Hidalgo’s direction is equally as good as his story. From the get-go he portrayed this like the creepy paranormal tale this was disguised as, giving me chills with even the simplest of scares. Good execution will do that. He employs amazing atmosphere and a creepy home to sell the spooks and keep the tension high, and I believe this visual appeal helped keep my attention during the film’s slightly confusing (eventually not confusing) moments. The actors deliver solid performances too, making this an all-around great film from a first-time filmmaker in a country not known for horror films.
Overall, The House at the End of Time is one of my favorite flicks of 2014 and an experience I highly suggest to you. Watch, pay attention, and you’ll enjoy.