Dulce (Ruddy Rodriguez) lives in an old house with her husband and son. One night they are visited by ghosts who kill her husband and take her son from her. The police don’t believe her story so she is sent to prison for murder. Thirty years later, Dulce, now an old woman, is released into house arrest, and moves back in to the old house but the ghosts aren’t finished with her yet.
The haunted house story is an old horror trope that has been around since the turn of the century so really, what can anyone bring that is new? The House at the End of Time plants its feet firmly in the old traditional style and the new with a well-constructed, written and twisting plot. The family in a big old haunted house that they bought for a very good price is fairly standard stuff. However, the films structure means that it jumps about in time but without every really becoming confusing. After an action packed opening that sets up the great crime in the house that dominates Dulce’s life, the film moves on thirty years to when she is being released. From there it flits between the present and the past as it shows the family trying to live in the house. It is in interweaving these timelines and then making them all ingeniously relate to each other and eventually come full circle that is the film’s ace in the hole.
The House at the End of Time has a fair amount of standard ghost house scares, all of them fairly reliable but not pushing things all the way up in to terror. The film starts at full pelt and then once we move on thirty years, eases back on the throttle, instead giving us an amount of atmosphere and a few scares, but mostly laying the foundations of relationship drama. This does make the film a little slow, dragging you along as it builds up to something, but gladly the payoff is well worth it. Though there are no scares in the reveal, those are taken up in the preceding two thirds of the film where the haunting is still a mystery, the pleasure of the final act manages to outweigh the first two thirds of the film by sheer intelligence and careful plotting. Without giving anything away, it is a joy to watch the story unfold and the mysteries become clear as the action doubles around on itself and reveals its clever nature, everything at the beginning making sense by the end. It is this sort of clever plotting and attention to detail that can be so rare these days so it is wonderful to see an intelligent film that happily and brilliantly, gradually shows you its hand.
Rodriguez is good as Dolce, playing both the younger and older parts convincingly despite some slightly off putting aging make up. The other actors are also good, including the two children played by Rosmel Bustamante and Hector Mercado, both never falling in to annoying, which helps to keep the family drama in the film interesting even if it isn’t the part of the film that will stick with you afterwards.
Some fairly standard haunted house scares and a sometimes slow pace gives way to a well plotted and constructed finale that bolsters the whole film. The House at the End of Time is a small treat from Venezuela.