Studio: Dark Sky Films
Director: Alejandro Hidalgo
Writer: Alejandro Hidalgo
Producer: Alejandro Hidalgo
Stars: Ruddy Rodriguez, Gonzalo Cubero, Rosmel Bustamante, Guillermo Garcia, Hector Mercado, Alexander Da Silva, Amanda Key
30 years after her husband’s death, the woman convicted of the crime returns to the mysterious house where the murder took place to find out what really happened.
30 years have passed since Dulce woke from unconsciousness with a bloody slash on her face and broken mirror shards all over her floor. Dulce recovered to find her husband stabbed to death before watching helplessly as her son Leopoldo was pulled into darkness by unknown hands.
Dulce swears she never touched the murder weapon, although the knife handle had her prints, and Leopoldo’s body was never found. Nevertheless, Dulce went to prison for the crimes and has been there ever since.
Now an elderly woman, authorities are allowing Dulce to revisit the haunted old home where the horrors took place. As flashbacks flood back, a priest pays a house call to ask what really happened to Dulce’s family on that fateful night 30 years ago. Additionally aided by a blind psychic straight out of “Phantasm,” a shocking mystery is put together that doesn’t have Dulce at its center. Rather, it seems her strange house casts a supernatural spell capable of transcending time itself.
Horror cinema has as many haunted house ghost stories as the beach has grains of sand. But slow burn suspense yarn “The House at the End of Time,” or “The House of the End Times” depending on how literally one wishes to translate the Spanish title, sparkles brighter than its dime-a-dozen peers by being built with sincere sentimentality, not just spookshow scares. Matching a free flow of fear with relatable family drama, “The House at the End of Time” makes for a movie that is emotionally engaging as well as subtly chilling.
Former Miss Venezuela World and popular telenovela actress Ruddy Rodriguez plays Dulce on two timelines. Rodriguez’s portrayal of a devoted, yet unfortunately struggling mother runs a full range between heartstring-tugging and outright heartbreaking. The young actors playing her children follow Rodriguez’s exemplary lead for roles effectively alternating between charming and crushing.
Director Alejandro Hidalgo wrings every grimace, scream, and tear he can from his cast as they explore all available avenues to ensure a willing audience can connect with these characters. “The House at the End of Time” is a story about people, specifically fragile family bonds, and the movie never forgets to ground the “natural” before putting “super” in front of it.
Unquestionably, the movie’s single greatest faux pas is the awful old age makeup used for elderly Dulce. Execution is so poor, the makeup would earn its artist a week one boot and pinched nose from Glenn Hetrick if this were a “Face Off” spotlight challenge.
It’s a nagging disappointment that this mildly mars a production otherwise polished to near perfection for a crafty indie effort. Such a setback also distracts from Ruddy Rodriguez’s performance, although Rodriguez is partly to blame for playing elderly Dulce as though she is in her late nineties instead of her late sixties. Rodriguez seemingly took a white wig and wrinkles as carte blanche to act almost crippled.
“The House at the End of Time” requires viewers to let certain things go anyway. Should you look behind you once all the surprise reveals are in the open, you’ll easily see that the logic isn’t entirely level. (I’ll never understand how a ghost capable of writing cryptic numbers as a message in a mirror can’t write specific words and save everyone a lot of trouble.)
Of course, if you’re unwilling to hang disbelief at the door on your way into the story, you’ll miss out on the magic of the movie’s cinematic fantasy and moving mystery. For a film founded on shocking moments occurring on two concurrent plotlines, “The House at the End of Time” is relatively easy to follow as far as time twisters go. Loud bangs on doors and shadowy shapes grabbing at shoulders check more than one jump jolt box, so it isn’t all just cerebral suspense. Yet the head and the heart are where the film intelligently grabs with a creatively firm grip.
NOTE: The film’s Spanish title is “La casa del fin de los tiempos.”
Review Score: 80