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The House at the End of Time | DVD Review

Alejandro Hidalgo The House at the End of Time DVD CoverWinning Best Director and Best Film at the 2014 ScreamFest Film Festival, Alejandro Hidalgo’s directorial debut The House at the End of Time will continue to enjoy the distinction of being one of the only Venezuelan horror films currently in existence. Mixing haunted house spooks with sci-fi concepts, Hidalgo’s feature is reminiscent of Nacho Vigalondo’s Timecrimes, but rather than attempting to logically engage with its time warping tactics, the film largely ignores these for supernatural discourse. A bit too rough around the edges in too many regards to attract attention beyond being something of a novelty, Hidalgo shows promise with the level of ambience and laudable look of the film.

Awakening in a daze, a deep gash in her face, Dulce (Roddy Rodriguez) finds her husband murdered and her elder son disappear before her very eyes into the bowels of her home. Accused of the crime, Dulce is sentenced to the maximum penalty. After thirty years, her age permits her to be released from prison and continue the remainder of her sentence under house arrest. But the aged Dulce still has to contend with the possible spirits residing in the house, and something there holds the key to the mystery of what happened to her son, whom Dulce still believes to be alive. Luckily, a local priest (Guillermo Garcia) believes Dulce and helps her unravel the mystery.

Silly swaths of dialogue and a distracting make-up job, attempting to make Rodriguez appear thirty years older as the film skips back and forth between past and present, tend to gnaw at the mood of The House at the End of Time, which opens in familiar fashion and then develops a few interesting twists and turns that aren’t quite explained intelligibly. Rodriguez gives the most arresting performance in the film, but that’s not saying much, often an over-the-top force enhanced by make-up and the wooden performance of others, including a ridiculously written priest that professes to see god through the eyes of the needy children he’s committed himself to helping. He believes Dulce is innocent only because he believes a mother that loves her children could never bring harm to them. Worse, Hidalgo insistently tries to lighten the mood at several points by showing the children at play, a schmaltzy score soaring into the cornball heavens.

Disc Review

DarkSky Films chose to release the title on DVD and not Blu-ray, peppered with a variety of critical acclaim from sources claiming The House at the End of Time is ‘scary,’ creepy,’ and a number of other descriptive adjectives. It’s none of these things, but Hidalgo does have a clever idea that isn’t quite executed as clearly as it could have been. Bereft of special features and presented in 1.78:1 widescreen, the disc is standard.

Final Thoughts

Overhyped considering its narrative capabilities and overall potential, The House at the End of Time may have some inventive characteristics that elevate it above standard genre fare. As a pioneering horror title from Venezuela, it’s worth a look, but expectations should stay resolutely in check.

Film: ★★/☆☆☆☆☆
Disc: ★★/☆☆☆☆☆

Los Angeles based Nicholas Bell is's Chief Film Critic and covers film festivals such as Sundance, Berlin, Cannes and TIFF. He is part of the critic groups on Rotten Tomatoes, The Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS) and GALECA. His top 3 for 2021: France (Bruno Dumont), Passing (Rebecca Hall) and Nightmare Alley (Guillermo Del Toro). He was a jury member at the 2019 Cleveland International Film Festival.

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