Back in late 2014 a playable teaser/trailer for Silent Hills was announced to the world. I was drawn to the teaser/trailer, for it’s use of horror and mind-bending puzzles. Once I had watched the teaser many times, I began a search on the Internet for various theories for what all the different clues left throughout meant. I went through several videos and sites, each one with a different interpretation, from the credible to the tenuous. Then I came across one by games journalist Jane Douglas, who referenced a 2013 Venezuelan horror film that was similar to the teaser, La Casa Del Fin De Los Tiempos, or The House At The End Of Time for non-Spanish speakers. I checked out the trailer soon after and well, here we are.
The House At The End Of Time stars Ruddy Rodriguez, Gonzalo Cubero, Rosmel Bustamante and Guillermo Garcia and is directed by Alejandro Hidalgo. When Dulce (Rodriguez) supposedly murders her husband and son (Cubero and Bustamente respectively), she is sent to prison, despite claiming she did not do it. Thirty years later she returns to the house where she apparently killed them, while a local priest (Garcia) tries to get to the bottom of the mystery.
Trailers are a funny thing. Looking at the trailer and the poster (the trailer will be below) you would be forgiven into thinking this is just another haunted house film with subtitles. This is not the case. While there are many scary moments of both varieties, jump scares and extended sequences of pure terror, these aren’t the main focus of the film. Instead the film has quite a beautiful story about motherhood, siblings, loss and regret with some scary moments sprinkled on top. It’s not the first film to suffer from bad promotion, and it certainly won’t be the last. But while some films might not recover from that, The House At The End Of Time manages to get around that problem by having some genuinely heartbreaking moments in the second half of the film as well as not giving away it’s story within said trailer.
Even though the set-up is one of the clichéd in the horror genre, The House At The End Of Time brings enough fresh ideas with its story for the setting to not get stale. Some of the scares come from stock scares (silhouettes moving about and doors rattling), but these scenes are made to stand out by how well shot they are. Kudos to cinematographer Cezary Jaworski for some truly mesmerising shots. The two first scares are ones that will stay with you just for how gorgeous they look. It’s amazing how something as simple as a rattling door handle can be so terrifying.
The acting is well done by all involved. While the make-up that transforms Rodriguez from 30 years old to 60 is a little unconvincing at the start, but her movements and actions make it seem a little more believable. Praise should go to the two child actors Rosmel Bustamante and Hector Mercado, who unlike normal child actors are actually quite good. Come the second half, Bustamente really comes into his own when confronted by the horrors that the house hides, and displays some heartfelt emotion.
I’ve left off talking about the details of story until now apart from the small setup in my introduction. And it’s going to stay that way. Even though I have the policy of no spoilers on this website, I refuse to even let the small details of this film be let free. You will thank me for it when you watch it; because The House At The End of Time’s plot is one of the most ingenuous I’ve seen in a long time. Some people will require a second viewing to snag all of the major clues, but the film manages to slowly reveal it’s hand without feeling like it’s just telling the audience what’s happening. My jaw was hanging open during the final scenes, staggered at how amazing the plot had been crafted.
There is one small fault I had with the film. Even though the plot is crafted excellently, there is one plot point (funnily enough, the one that puts the whole plot in motion) that comes out of nowhere. Maybe I just missed a subtitle that explained it, but even if I did, it’s still a “What the…” moment because it’s such a left field move. Either way, the plot picks it up and just runs with it and you become engrossed in the film again quite quickly.
In summary, The House At The End Of Time is a good horror film wrapped around a fiendishly clever plot. It’s available both on DVD and to stream, so go and watch it now.
Score: 9/10 One of the most suspenseful and imaginative thrillers I’ve seen in a long time.