A mother’s love transcends time.
Dulce (Ruddy Rodriguez) is a woman whose life is turned upside down by strange goings on in the home she shares with her husband and two young sons. After a tragedy takes her away from her home for thirty years, she returns as an old woman determined to find out the truth behind the bizarre happenings all those years before.
I don’t like giving away spoilers in any of my reviews; especially when they are as consequential as the ones in the horror film The House at the End of Time.
This film isn’t a typical scare fest. While the first half of this Venezuelan import is a straight up horror movie — one that had me protectively covering my eyes and seriously questioning my love for the genre — it makes an amazing and unexpected transformation into the story of a mother’s love and sacrifice for her child. I know it’s hard to believe a horror movie could successfully make that kind of change, but this one does it does it seamlessly.
Dulce (Pronounced Dul-say) is the protagonist of the story, which begins in 1981. She, her husband, and their two young boys live hand to mouth, struggling to get food on the table each and every day. Husband Juan José (Gonzalo Cubero) does odd jobs here and there to make ends meet, and their luck seems to be changing when a government program allows them to purchase an abandoned home for an affordable price — Yay! It appears as if things are looking up. Yeah right! This is a horror film not a Lifetime movie, and as we all know things rarely work out for the best in these types of films.
The house is a creepy, dark cavernous hole, with a basement that looks as if it could be one of Dante’s nine circles of hell -cheap or not, I would have to say thanks but no thanks to this government goody. When Dulce’s oldest son Leopold (Rosmel Bustamante) claims to see strange things happening in the house, his mother doesn’t believe him, until she herself begins experiencing the same strange phenomena. Fast forward 30 years, Dulce is back in the home for the first time since she was a young mother, and this is her last chance to try and figure out what happened all those years before. Hidalgo seamlessly jumps between 1981 and the present, as layer by layer, he reveals Dulce’s story and the mystery that forced her to leave her home.
I know I’m being vague with the details of the plot — just trust me when I say you will appreciate it once you’ve experienced this film unspoiled. In The House at the End of Time, Hidalgo manages to put a fresh coat of paint on a genre that is littering the atmosphere with tired retreads of horror days gone by. He delivers a film that is smart as well as scary; throwing in a dash of mystery, and then hitting the brakes and changing directions in a way that I can’t recall seeing in a movie before. This is a film that should put Venezuela on the radars of movie lovers worldwide.
The House at the End of Time is yet another fantastic MPI release, presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. The more horrory (I’m taking credit for creating this word) scenes have a bluish hue that lends itself to the spooky atmosphere of the film. The colors are sharper when we see the real life gritty Venezuelan neighborhood that the characters call home. Warning to those of you who don’t care to mix your readin’ with your movie watchin, some of you — and you know who you are — will need your readin’ spectacles, ?cause this is a Spanish language film with subtitles. Don’t freak out, even the subtitles are excellent, crisp and white with a black backing that makes the dialogue easy to read in day or night scenes. Even though I can’t understand a lick of what they’re sayin’, the Dolby 5.1 audio highlights the richness of the language that gives life to the words parading across the screen. The soundtrack for The House at the End of Time is as unique as the film itself, with a mix of spooky, dramatic, and sometimes slapstick-like music, all of which fits the scenes they accompany. It may seem strange, but like much of what Hidalgo does in this film, it works in his favor. The one downside: not one extra is included in this minimalist release…Aww.
I never thought about Venezuela being a movie making hot spot, but if The House at the End of Time is any indication — watch out Hollywood! You have been warned.