Alejandro Hidalgo’s The House at the End of Time appears as your plain ol’ haunted house movie, with creepy ghostly figures, jump scares and a perpetually grey environment getting bleaker by the moment; and it is exactly that, for the most part. However, what sets this apart from the hundreds of movies with the same nature and content is the bewildering conclusion that somehow brings it all together. It thrusts it into a different genre, resulting in a type of supernatural thriller so complex you will be kicking yourself you didn’t pay more attention throughout.
Set initially in 1981, Dulce (Ruddy Rodriguez) wakes up on the floor of her grand house, stumbles across her husband who has been killed, and then witnesses her son snatched into absolute darkness. The sole survivor of this creepy ordeal, she is convicted of the murder of both and released 30 years later back into the same house.
It’s at this point she begins recounting the events in the build-up to the murder, confiding primarily in a priest, but also in an excellent scene with a medium, everything becomes clearer yet stranger as the facts begin to emerge. It takes a long time to get interesting; for the most part Dulce is a fragile mess unable to comprehend what has happened, but once the story falls into place, and you have to be able to suspend what is believable in a huge way, it is a chillingly original finale.
Yet again, this isn’t a movie that scared me, but for those with fears of home invasion, ghosts and many jumpy moments, this could terrify you. It’s extremely well executed with some fantastic performances, but it’s somewhat let down by the boredom of the first half and the distracting odd make-up job to make Ruddy Rodriguez look old.
As you can probably tell I’m pretty undecided about this movie. There were moments of severe tediousness and predictability, but I cannot emphasise enough just how those elements seem retrospectively insignificant to the conclusive and exciting ending. What may appear to be a rambling mess of a haunted house horror materialises into a remarkably clever thriller that does a good job of breaking away from the typical expectations associated with a movie of this nature.
There is something incredibly satisfying about a good horror movie ending. One that catches you off guard, one that provides reasoning for everything that has happened, and one that possesses an air of originality. The House at the End of Time has all of this, and despite how drawn out it may seem, compared to the other movies in the respective genre, this Venezuelan horror-thriller is one of the better horror movies in recent memory.