Well, I’m proud to say I can knock another country off my list when it comes to movies. The House at the End of Time (La Casa del fin de los Tiempos) is the first movie I’ve ever seen that is from Venezuela. It is also the highest grossing Venezuelan film of the year and it is in the top ten grossing films of Latin America. Despite its success, I had heard virtually nothing about this movie before watching it.
Before we begin, I want to point out two things that affected my opinion of this movie. First, my copy of the movie kept switching between standard definition and poor quality and there was a white static type thing at the top of the screen. I’m hoping this problem was exclusive to version of the film provided to reviewers and isn’t the case for all the copies. I also had issues with the subtitles. Normally, I don’t mind reading along while I watch a foreign film, but this time the subtitles were god awful. It seemed like less than five minutes could go by before I became confused by what was written or being drawn out of the film by typos that even a fifth grader wouldn’t make. Now I don’t expect perfection from my subtitles, but when I have to pay such close attention to text in order to understand a film, I expect the quality to be decent at least. The subtitles in The House at the End of Time were some of the worst I’ve ever seen on a movie.
With those complaints aside, I can move on to the movie itself. This was Alejandro Hidalgo’s first film, written and directed it on a budget of 3 million dollars. The House at the End of Time is about a woman who is sent to prison for murdering her husband and child. A murder she says she did not commit, because of course she didn’t. 30 years later, she is released on house arrest and now must face her past and the dark secrets within her home.
The truly sad thing about this movie is that it was so close to being amazing, but the hiccups along the way just made it a mediocre film. The movie is sold as a horror/thiller/fantasy, yet I saw no horror elements. At most there was a single jump scare, but in no way would I describe this as a horror movie. The plot itself was interesting, though it was drawn out a little more than it had to be. Because of this, at the climax it goes completely flat and the resolution is weak. We never get any answers as to why all of these strange events are happening in the house, they just do and no one bothers to propose an explanation. Plot points that were brought up earlier in the film are just left to dangle, providing further confusion. Additionally, characters undergo radical personality shifts with no warning or reasoning. One character, the father played by Gonzalo Cubero, is portrayed as a sympathetic character at the beginning, only to go bonkers later out of nowhere. I will say the end of the movie was kinda touching, but some of the choices made by the leads didn’t make sense to me especially after all that had happened.
The actors and actresses are the highlights of the film. Ruddy Rodriguez, who plays the main character Dolce, does a great job in this movie. She is a very compelling and sympathetic lead, which is why she is one of the few things that kept me interested in the movie. Another stand out performance was done by Rosmel Bustamante, who played one of Dolce’s sons. He is an amazing young actor and I see a bright future ahead of him. His emotional portrayal of the character was deeply moving and convincing. The family drama at the center of this movie is the strongest aspect of it, and the cast is more than up to the task of delivering it.
While I don’t have many complaints about most of the acting in the movie, I can’t say the same for the makeup. For example, Ruddy Rodriguez plays both young Dolce and old Dolce and the makeup that was used to age her is hilariously bad. I know a $3 million budget isn’t a ton of money in this industry, but depending on who was hired, casting two different actresses wouldn’t have broken the bank.
It’s sad to see a movie that had such great potential for over half of the film flounder so badly by the end. I can only give The House at the End of Time 6 out of 10 and the cast and director best wishes on their next ventures.