The House at the End of Time (Spanish: La casa del fin de los tiempos), 2013.
Directed by Alejandro Hidalgo.
Starring Rosmel Bustamante, Adriana Calzadilla and Simona Chirinos.
After mistakenly serving thirty years in prison for the murder of her husband and child Dulce is allowed home to spend her last days in peace, but upon her return she begins seeking answers to the deaths of her loved ones.
Waking up on the floor whilst bleeding from mysterious cuts in your face is about standard within the horror genre, but for a movie touted as one of Venezuela’s first horror films The House at The End of Time deserves credit for pushing back against a familiar backdrop and opening.
Written and directed by Alejandro Hidalgo, The House at The End of Time is a film which feels like it has to something to prove, namely that it can stand toe-to-toe with any Hollywood offering, and to a large extent that’s true. While it may sound like a backhanded compliment the most impressive aspects of the film are technical and not story or plot related. End of Time looks great, with a palette of blue, black and gold helping the story move between moments of suspense and beauty. If this is truly ‘Venezuela’s first horror film’ then it’s quite an achievement as it surpasses the majority of Hollywood horror in both direction and cinematography. There are myriad other aspects worthy of praise including the set design, editing and especially the performances that Alejandro Hidalgo manages to coax out of an entire group of children (it’s usually a miracle to find one child actor who doesn’t grate on an audience). The only technical element at fault is the rather unconvincing elderly make-up applied to Dulce (Ruddy Rodriguez), but it’s one her performance manages to overcome.
These laudable aspects only serve to heighten the disappointment of a somewhat-typical time-bending story. It’s hard to provide frames of reference for a story when doing so would reveal a twist, but with a twist this predictable it was a smart choice to downplay the reveal and instead focus on the increasingly-strained relationships between characters. Suffice to say End of Time falls squarely into the ouroboros category of time-travel, joining Twelve Monkeys and the brilliantly threadbare Timecrimes. The one constant that can undo any scientific certainty within film is of course always love, but End of Time does at least make this its central thesis throughout the film and so at least feels only predictable instead of cheap and frustrating. The performances are admirable throughout, with Dulce’s combination of indifference and suppressed grief managing to shine through in something as how she smokes a cigarette. The children (Rosmel Bustamante and Gonzalo Cuberoare) are worth noting again simply because of how much is asked of them, but ultimately all performances can only elevate the plot until it hits the ceiling that is the story. There are things to like here, and there is enough to look forward to more from its director, but those seeking something to love and not simply admire will be left searching.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★