The House at the End of Time (2013)    2 Stars

“There’s no turning back”


The House at the End of Time (2013)
The House at the End of Time (2013)


Director: Alejandro Hidalgo

Cast: Rosmel Bustamante, Adriana Calzadilla, Simona Chirinos

Synopsis: An old woman returns to the house from which her son disappeared thirty years before.




It’s quite clever, the way the structure of Alejandro Hidalgo’s The House at the End of Time (La casa del fin de los tiempos), mimics that of the story it tells. It opens in the midst of some unexplained incident in the past with careworn housewife Dulce (Ruddy Rodriguez) waking up on the floor of the near-derelict house she shares with her husband (Gonzalo Cubero) and two sons, Leopoldo (Rosmel Bustamente) and Rodrigo (Hector Mercado). Grabbing a shard from the mirror that lies in pieces around her, she pauses long enough to light a lamp before descending into the cellar where she stumbles upon her husband, who is dying from a knife wound. Venturing further into the darkness, Dulce sees her oldest son, Leopoldo, snatched through a doorway by an unseen presence. When she finally summons up the courage to look in the chamber of the cellar into which her son disappeared she finds no sign of him, and yet there is no possible means of exit…

So far, so haunted house movie. It’s a decent if uninspired beginning which offers little clues to the direction in which Hidalgo’s labyrinthine tale will travel. Fast-forward thirty years, and an aged Dulce (still played by Rodriguez in unconvincing prosthetics) returns under house arrest to the home in which her husband was killed and her son abducted. In the absence of any other suspects, she was sentenced for the crime and has spent the intervening years in prison. Now, 30 years later (it’s important – and hugely coincidental), Dulce’s back home. Almost immediately she senses a strangeness about the house that’s worryingly reminiscent of the eerie goings-on prior to the murders in 1981 – and she keeps seeing an old man wielding a knife even though she’s alone in the house.

Something of a slow-burner, Venezuela’s first ever horror movie drifts back and forward in time to reveal tantalising clues to explain why the acts of the past continue to resonate in the house in which the crimes took place – and in which most of the movie is set. Even though it rolls out a number of over-familiar horror genre tropes, it rarely shows us what is scaring Dulce, and The House at the End of Time isn’t really a horror at all. It fact it does an admirable job of hiding its true colours until confounding its audience by introducing an unexpected dimension in the third act which transforms it into an altogether different story to the one we thought we were watching. The twists that then unfold aren’t new, but they belong to a different genre and it’s to Hidalgo’s credit that he manages to seamlessly blend the two without jarring us from the story. It’s true that he takes liberties in order to tie up all the loose strands and, once we know what’s going on, we might be forgiven for wondering why that old man with the knife didn’t at least dress a little more appropriately for his visit, but overall The House at the End of Time proves to be a satisfactory and unexpectedly heart-warming experience.

(Reviewed 18th May 2015)

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