Film: The House at the End of Time (2013)
Country of origin: Venezuela
Ah yes. Now, where was I?
I’m a huge horror movie fan. But my preferences fall more towards the supernatural side of things, rather than the gorefests which unfortunately make up the majority of recent horror offerings. Personal favourites include The Exorcist (which may not be “scary” any longer, given the countless parodies, but there’s no denying that it’s an unsettling movie), Rosemary’s Baby (the book is one of my favourites too), and the original Nigel Kneale Woman in Black (again, great book).
But anyway, this is beside the point. I was very excited to find a foreign horror movie to fulfil this week’s quota (and in the spookiest month of the year too. Despite the blazing California sunshine). However, The House at the End of Time isn’t exactly what I would consider a supernatural horror film. Throughout, the threat always feels human. And even though there was some scary moments, it’s ultimately a story about a struggling family.
At the start of the film, we meet Dulce (played by Ruddy Rodriguez), just before she finds her husband murdered in the basement. She also catches sight of her son, before he disappears into thin air. Dulce is charged with both of these murders, and is imprisoned. After severing thirty years, she is permitted to return to the house of her nightmares. She is convinced that the house itself is to blame for the murders, and enlists the help of a local priest to get to the bottom of the mystery.
The first thing that struck me about this film, was the baffling decision to not employ an older actress to portray the elderly Dulce, but rather apply questionable make-up to Rodriguez. Maybe with later plot developments, it kind of makes sense, but it just looks really terrible. Almost hysterically so.
Luckily, the plot of the film is very interesting, and undoubtedly original. You just have to stick with it for a while before the mist clears. On the surface, this is yet another haunted house movie, relying on jump scares and dark figures in the periphery. But it turns into so much more than that. Although, to be fair, the highlights of the first half of the film come from the connection the audience forms with this struggling family. The horror comes as much from real life tragedy as it does from spooks.
I really don’t want to give too much away, but this movie is certainly worth your time. It may not be immediately apparent, but it’s a very clever film. The performances are all great too; I’m always impressed when child actors manage to be likeable as well as dramatically convincing, and the young men who play sons Leopoldo and Rodrigo manage this with aplomb (kid from The Babadook, take note. Jeez). Ruddy Rodriguez is fantastic, even with unconvincing “old lady” make-up.
This is writer/director Alejandro Hidalgo’s first movie (according to IMDB anyway), and it’s an extraordinary achievement. And apparently, Venezuela’s first supernatural thriller! Please, give it a watch. By the end, I was genuinely shouting (at the screen, on my own, in an empty apartment), “Fuck, this film is amazing!” Next to “yes, mate”, that’s one of the highest honours a film can receive.