In my endless search for nifty new foreign DVD goodies, Neko’s recently been poking about Latin America for a horror movie fix and scored a winner with the 2013 English subtitle friendly Spanish Region 2 release of the Venezuelan film “La Casa Del Fin De Los Tiempos” aka “The House At The End of Time”.
Our synopsis? How’s this grab you… “Weird and mysterious events obscure the real truth behind a woman’s supposed murder of her husband and the disappearance of a son that result in her imprisonment for 30 long years. Paroled to house arrest in the same creepy home she left years ago, Dulce discovers that those eerie mysteries still exist and still link her to the past and that crime in ways she never imagined…”
Creepy haunted house… unexplained supernatural goings-on…. and murder!! OK… OK… I’m on board. Like there would actually be any chance I wouldn’t be…. Wanna know all the details for your own self? Then by all means, “Read On”… C’mon…. is this wee Catgirl really gonna have to beg? 😉
Well that’s what “La Casa Del Fin De Los Tiempos” is all about all wrapped up in a nutshell. I mean, “it quacks like a duck” and all, but then it pulls the old ” bait & switch” with a viewer just when you think you know whats going on. Ordinarily that sort of thing really ticks this kitten off. I mean… when I scootch down on the couch with my sweet Carolyn all excited to watch a scary ghost story, I expect to see a scary ghost story. Lots of movies before have done the whole “reasonable explanations for all the supernatural stuff” twist to me…. and I always hate it sooooo darn much! Yep…. that’s right. I’m looking at you Chinese Horror films under communist film censors… and you too, Hindi films. All of you. Stop trying to tell Neko to grow up and be a “big girl” and stop believing in ghosts. Hey…. I like ghosts. And monsters, witches, ninjas, atomic mutants, Bigfoot, cannibal hillbillies, and Hitler’s pickled brain-in-a-jar. (I swear… That last one is hidden away by order of Winston Churchill in a secure vault under the Tower of London…. Seriously, I just know it… Hehehehe!!!)
So…. errrr…. your Favorite Catgirl’s rambling crazy rant aside, does that mean this one isn’t a supernatural suspense thriller?
Luckily for us, it still is. Just not the one you might have expected from watching the Trailer. Nope. Not at all. It’s soooo darn much smarter than just the old “bait & switch” Scooby-Doo plot and actually managed to take it’s story in a direction completely unexpected while preserving the creepy ideas that made me want to see it in the first place. Yay!! 🙂
Mind you now… that means I can’t really go much into the plot of the story this time out without blowing that for my Gentle Visitors, so bear with me while I try my own hand at obscuring the details all the while gushing about how much I really enjoyed this one.
Its starts out pretty much like you might expect a ghost story to, with our heroine Dulce (played by Ruddy Rodríguez) waking up in a darkened hallway amid shards of broken glass, her face slashed and bleeding, obviously terrified and confused. Frantically she searches the eerie old house for her son Leopoldo (played by Rosmel Bustamante)… and in the process finds her husband Juan José (played by Gonzalo Cubero) in the cellar, dying from a kitchen knife jammed deeply into his chest. While the shock of that discovery still shakes her… she finally glimpses her son… only to see him yanked away into darkness right before her eyes. Impossibly… he’s nowhere to be found in the creepy cellar room he was pulled into and from which there is no other exit. When dawn comes, the police arrive… they listen to Dulce’s insane story of ghosts… find her dead husband’s body still with the knife sticking in his chest covered with Dulce’s own fingerprints and charge her with the murders of both her husband and her inexplicably missing son. This is usually where most movies end… but for “La Casa Del Fin De Los Tiempos”, we’re only getting started.
30 years pass, and by some quirk of the Venezuelan penal system, the now aged Dulce is paroled from prison to house arrest for humanitarian reasons. Taken back to the scene of her horrible experiences, she’s confined to the house by two police officers and allowed only a single visitor, a local priest (played by Guillermo García). He’s curious about Dulce, and through his curiosity gets her to start opening up about the events before and leading up to that terrible night. The more he hears of her story… the more convinced he becomes that perhaps she’s telling the truth… that she didn’t murder her husband and son… and that maybe her deepest fears are real. That they were killed by the house itself…. Ooooohhhh!! Sounds like time for a flashback… 😉
And the middle of our story is just that. We travel back 30 years to find a younger Dulce living a miserable life with a husband she really doesn’t love in a creepy mansion he got for a pittance from the government eager to sell an ill-omened property to anyone willing to buy it. Ill-omened? Why certainly… the place has had oodles of inhabitants since it was built by a crazy Masonic Englishman in the 1880’s… all of whom have mysteriously disappeared without a trace over the years. Awww… crap. Isn’t that always the way it goes?
At this time, Dulce is shown to have two sons…. the older Leopoldo whom we’ve seen, and an adorable younger son Rodrigo (played by Héctor Mercado). The two boys are inseparable lil’ rascals, trying Dulce’s patience with their endless shenanigans around the neighborhood, while the perennially out-of-work Juan José wears away at Dulce’s tolerance and desire for something better for herself and the boys. They’ve been in the house for 5 long years without much else going on… until now.
Strange events begin to happen, and Dulce and Leopoldo begin to think that perhaps they are no longer alone in the rambling mansion… until one night when some strange woman tries to attack the both of them. Human or Ghost? No one knows… not even the creepy prerequisite blind medium Dulce brings to the house…. and the police are skeptical of any weird story, chalking it all up to the strained marital relations that are obvious to them from the get go.
Whoever the intruder is… she’s got a warning for them. A cryptic note for Dulce telling her Juan José will try to kill Leopoldo… and an even weirder warning for Leopoldo to avoid his younger brother for the next three days or risk losing him. Naturally… Juan José puts a stop to any idea of Leopoldo not keeping track of his little brother, and soon Rodrigo is accidentally killed by a baseball to the face at the hands of Leopoldo. Oops.
Naturally that’s gonna create problems. Poor Leopoldo is wracked with guilt… and worse… Dulce has been keeping a secret from them all that guarantees Rodrigo’s death will now push Juan José to the brink of murder.
This is where things start to speed up and the whole idea of a “ghost story” goes flying out the window. Can’t really tell you much more without ruining things, but let me tease you by saying that by the time all is revealed, our heroine is both innocent… and guilty… of the murder of her husband and the mysterious fate of Leopoldo. How? Well this wee lady thinks you are going to want to find that out for yourself. It’ll be worth it…. 😉
Director and screenwriter Alejandro Hidalgo out does himself with this one. He actually manages to do one sweet little take on the ol’ “Ghost story with no ghost” tease. Our story here is simple, yet suitably twisted enough to let it all play out in a way I found very enjoyable without making a viewer feel cheated. There’s great cinematography and atmosphere supported by a cast of excellent actors all combined to give one a very satisfying experience movie-wise. This one was a very, very pleasant surprise indeed and even made my usually picky sweetie happy with it’s plot that didn’t leave her confused by all the foreign stuff the way some of my cinema choices can. This picky ghost lovin’ Catgirl can easily give it a well deserved 4 “Meows” out of 5 for doing things in such a clever and well orchestrated fashion. (Yep… I sure scored big “girlfriend points” with this one…. And my Carolyn also found the ending both sad and touching all at the same time… just as I’m thinking most of my Gentle Visitors will as well.)
I didn’t see this one on the original Venezuelan DVD… in fact I’m not even certain one exists. I managed to find this on on a Spanish Region 2 release, done Widescreen and letterboxed with good separate subtitles in both English and French for those of us not conversant in Spanish. It was a tad bit pricy to import here to my lil’ Litterbox all the way from Spain, but given my enjoyment, well worth the 30$ US it came to.
Yep…. now there’s a Trailer available, and to leave things in our usual way…. here it goes.. Enjoy!!