Review: The House At The End OF Time

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Dulce is a mother who has encounters with apparitions in her old house, where it unleashes a terrible prophecy. Thirty years later, turned into an old woman, she returns home to unravel the mystery and tragedy that has tantalized her.


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This is the first horror film from Venezuela, which gave it a certain pull for me but it is easily one of my favourite films at Frightfest 2015, so much so that I went to see it at Grimm Fest in Manchester the following month. I do have a soft spot for Foreign Horror films, and this just added to my growing list of great films not off the English Language. I had no idea what it was about, what to expect, I assumed it was a ghost story maybe in the spirit of The Orphanage (another favourite of mine), or something along those lines. How wrong I was, even though the English DVD art really does portray it as a ghost story; it’s no ghost story that’s for sure.

I can’t explain why it’s not a ghost story because it would ruin the film, but what I can say is I found it rather clever, a little too clever sometimes and it was in danger of over complicating the plot and leaving me searching for answers. Thankfully it doesn’t and as the film goes along I was drawn deeper into the twists and turns but always had a grasp on what was going on, well just!

The story revolves around one family fighting poverty and which is slowly falling apart. They have moved into a rather cheap house, after a while you understand why it was a bargain. Soon the family start to encounter strange occurrences in their home and from there the film sets up a rather intriguing finale and one I didn’t see coming.

The cast is great, which includes Ruddy Rodriguez, a former Miss Venezula who is very good as the mother, but it’s the two boys that shine; Rosmel Bustamantie (Leopoldo) and Hector Mercado (Rodrigo) are both extremely good.
The cinematography is also fantastic, the look of the film is incredible. The subtle drained tones in the house give it a rather creepy feel all the way through, the directon is solid and the script is very good. With a nice soundtrack throughout, though it does tend to over highlight the tension building to the next scare. There are a few of those jump scares that is, just ask Mark and why he is called – ‘Jumper in Row D’; we counted Mark leaving his seat 10 times in the Frightfest screening – a record for Mark!

I’ve seen it a few times now and still enjoy it very much, don’t be put off by the UK cover and just enjoy this rather clever film from Venezuela.

 


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The House At The End Of Time is a superbly made and thoroughly enjoyable film. I caught it at Film4 Fright Fest last summer a film being billed as ‘the first horror film to come out of Venezuela’. This was on a pretty mixed day that had included Open Windows and the brilliant Faults. When the lights went down, out of the corner of my eye I watched Mark go airborne about 4-5 times BEFORE the title card had even appeared on the screen. One thing was certain, the production team in Venezuela had hit the ground running and were already leading the pack.

Running over two timelines the film follows an old woman, Dulice ( played by former Miss Venezuelan Ruddy Rodríguez). Who returns home after decades in jail for the murder of her family and is trying to figure out what had exactly transpired in the house so long ago. From the jump filled opening to the wonderfully twisted ending the film crosses between the two timelines with ease, creating a twisted and enthralling story which kept your attention and highlighted the quality of the writing and allows the actors to all deliver brilliant performances including the child actors who were the main focus of the film.

What makes this all so surprising is that its a directorial and writing debut that has come out of (relative) nowhere. The fact that Alejandro Hidalgo has made something this brilliant on his first feature attempt is nothing short of breathtaking. The story expands over the 100 minutes and the film is peppered with wonderful little jumps and scares throughout. However Alejandro didn’t become reliant on jumps and loud bangs to scare the audience, the film also contains some wonderfully creepy moments and images.

Thats not to say I didn’t have issues with the film. One of my biggest pet peeves with films is when younger people being made to look like OAPs. If its a single scene then fair enough, but in House At The End Of Time the story is split across the two timelines 50/50. While Ruddy Rodríguez does a stunning job as Dulice, it is all too painfully obvious that the ‘old’ Dulice is a young woman in makeup made to look old.  There was even a handful of points that the prosthetics wrinkled in close ups. For a film this good it was an annoying fault.

It is a testament to how great this film is that all of us bought this film on import from Spain within months of watching it last August.  Not only was House at the end of time the film of the festival for me at Film4 Frightfest 2014, but was one of the film highlights of last year. I can’t overestimate how much I have enjoyed this film on repeated viewings, even when I knew the ending.


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Well, it’s finally here on DVD. I admit I didn’t wait and bought the U.S. Import. Venezuela’s first horror movie is one hell of an introduction, as it is for director Alejandro Hidalgo. His debut is a masterclass on how a director can still make an impact in the genre. At last years Frightfest this rocketed itself to pole position of the entire festival whilst repetitively rocketing me out of my seat.

We start the film introduced to our central character ‘Dulce’, an old woman released on house arrest to the home where 30 years previously terrible things happened. Once back in the house ( which after 30 years of laying empty, if indeed it ever was empty, looks suitably dark and spooky before anything happens) she starts to see some damn scary shit! The film segues effortlessly back and forth between the past and present, allowing the viewer to start to piece together the events of 30 years ago and just what is going on in the house now. The ghosts appearances are superb, every one increasingly effective, building to some insanely tense scenes that can’t help but raise the hairs on the back of your neck. In an alternate reality if Peter Parker was watching this his Spider sense would have given him one hell of a spider migraine.

The director has seemingly locked himself in a room with a pile of the most effective ghost/ haunted house stories before taking his notes on the most effective scares within the history of the genre before crafting this masterclass in terror. The touchstones that seem to cry out as inspiration include The Innocents, The Changeling, The Others and The Orphanage. A quick look over those films makes the other connection. They all feature children whether as ghosts, experiencing hauntings, or mysteriously disappeared. What Hidalgo does with The House At The End Of Time is to craft a tale so wonderfully complete, with a superb cast( the child actors are a joy in this), that enthrals whilst scaring the bejesus out of you. This film is the equal of the films that seem to have inspired it, and certainly with those four examples that’s no mean feat.

This is a film that deserves an audience. And it deserves it now. With every chance that it’s going to get the Hollywood remake treatment, don’t miss the chance to see this. A little film that punches far above its meagre budget to create something that for a horror fan is something wonderful.


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This was a real Frightfest favourite of mine, it isn’t often that a film comes along that really freaks you out but this most definitely did. After being arrested for the murder of her family a mother returns home to the house where the crimes happened thirty years earlier and has to stay under house arrest as part of her release. Seeking answers to what really happened there the past comes back with a spectacular and truly terrifying vengeance.

In an era of cheap shock thrills and blood and gore horror it is nice to see a movie like this, it relies on you filling in the blanks, what it lacks in jump out moments it fills in letting you create in your mind what is really going on. When the scares comes they are fantastic and I left my seat several times watching this! It feels like a proper old school ghost story, much more effective than the horror-by-numbers that graces many cinema screens these days. There is a real unsettling feeling that runs through this film that all isn’t well and the director employs enough tricks to keep you feeling scared throughout.

Did I truly love it? Well it’s a great effort, it’s the first Venezualan horror that I have ever seen and there is enough in this for me to suggest it is well worth a watch. There is much more to this than just a horror movie as it sets out to try and answer the question of what really happened to Dulce and did she kill her family thirty years ago? With the help of a catholic priest the movie twists and turns and when you think you’ve got it then be prepared for something else to be thrown at you. That is probably my only criticism that it can be hard to fully keep up with this, perhaps to watch it when you can give it your full concentration.

All in all a valiant effort and a movie I would go back to. Enjoy it before the remake ruins it!


 

The House At The End Of Time is out on DVD and Blu-Ray on Monday 27th April 2015. Final-Score

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