The Thinking of Speaking
Issue #16 July / August 2015
Movies
At the Cinema
La Casa del Fin de los Tiempos
by Erik Zidowecki
July / August 2015 | 


I don't normally watch horror films, mainly because most of the time I find them to be overtly gory and violent while having no real plot. They are attempting to simply gross out the audience or scare them with lots of sudden bangs and movements.

The first Venezuelan horror film, "La Casa del Fin de los Tiempos" (The House at the End of Time) is not your normal horror story, however. It starts out with the gruesome part of the story, then changes to a thriller and mystery which will explain the opening events.

We first see the main character of the movie, Dulce, as she is lying unconscious on the floor of a house. She is bloodied by a large cut down her cheek and surrounded by broken glass. She awakens, slowly realizes where she is, then begins to search the house, growing more frantic as she calls out for Leopoldo, her son.

All this leads up to an astounding twist which brings past and present together in a unique way which is what makes this such an amazing film and one I really love.

As she descends staircases further down into the house, she stumbles across the body of her husband, Juan José. He has been stabbed in the neck by a large kitchen knife. Dulce continues further into the lower reaches of the house until she sees her son standing in a doorway. Fearful for his safety, she calls to him to come to her. He seems terrified, but finally takes a step towards her. To Dulce's horror, he is suddenly grabbed back into the darkness, the door slamming shut after him.

Dulce screams, opens the door, and descends yet another flight of stairs into what appears to be an underground chamber, but there is no sign of her son. She failed to save him, but save him from what?


Dulce searching for her son in the house

Next we see Dulce being led out of the house by the police, as she has been accused of the murder of both her husband and son. Found guilty, as there are no other suspects and her fingerprints were found on the murder weapon, she is put in jail.

We jump forward thirty years to 2011, when Dulce, now a grey-haired elderly woman, is being released from jail due to her health and put under house arrest in the very house where the murders were carried out. As she enters, we see a flashback to her in a kitchen as two young boys come in. One is Leopoldo and the other is his younger brother, Rodrigo. This begins a series of flashbacks which continue throughout the film, showing present events as well as the past leading up to the crime.


Dulce in the kitchen as her sons quickly eat breakfast

A priest soon comes to visit her, wanting to hear from her what really happened. Dulce dismisses him, telling him she has given up on God, but she takes him to the lowest part of the house where she saw Leopoldo vanish. She tells him the house killed her husband and took away her son.

Another flashback shows the boys riding their bikes to meet up with other neighbourhood kids and have a fun day throwing urine filled balloons at adults and playing baseball in a small lot. We learn that while life for them outside the house is happy and exciting, life in the house is draining and hard for everyone. The children are scared of something in the house, and while Dulce consoles them, she has her own darkness to contend with.


Leopoldo and Rodrigo facing off in sibling rivalry

When Juan Jose comes home, we learn that the couple has grown apart. Juan is unable to provide for his family and Dulce has come to resent him. After some bitter words, Juan heads back out into the night, leaving Dulce in her bedroom.

After he leaves, the door handle to the bedroom starts rattling, as if someone is trying to get into the locked room. Dulce thinks it is Juan and shouts at him to go away, but the rattling gets more intense. Meanwhile, we see someone is also trying to get into Rodrigo's room. Somehow, both doors become unlocked and open. Using the child logic of protection, Rodrigo yanks a bed sheet over himself as a small figure enters the room and approaches him.


Dulce and Jean, trying to make sense of their lives

Meanwhile, Dulce's door has a chain lock to prevent the door from opening more than a few inches. As Dulce approaches to see who is there, an arm thrusts in slams her against the door as it attempts to undo the latch. Dulce screams and manages to get the door shut again, after which there is silence for a moment. Then she hears a scream as Rodrigo has the sheet yanked off him by the intruder.

After some frantic running around trying to find the proper keys, Dulce manages to find both her children, safe, but apparently shaken up by something. She can find no sign of an intruder. The police come the next day to investigate, but there is little she can tell them. Leopoldo has seen something, and finally tells Dulce that he saw a woman who told him not to play with Rodrigo and she gave him a note to give to Dulce which says that Juan will try to kill her son.


Dulce being attacked in her bedroom by an unknown intruder

All this is revealed in the flashback, and the priest decides to do some of his own research on the case. He soon finds other stories about similar events which happened in the house, with people disappearing in 1951 as well as the original occupants in 1921.

Present day Dulce knows there is something evil in the house, as she sees an old man holding a knife a few times, but each time he disappears quickly for others to see him. She also finds five pairs of ones written on a mirror in what appears to be blood.


Old Dulce showing the priest where she lost her son

Through more flashbacks, we see Dulce tell Juan that she is leaving him and taking the children after she shows the note to him. He threatens her so she stays, but she seeks out a medium to find out what is going on with the house. Contact is made with something, and she hears a conversation between two people, one claiming not to be the other's father with the other pleading not to kill him. She sees the old man that our present day Dulce has seen and accuses the medium and her aide as trying to scare her.

Then tragedy strikes when during one of the baseball games, Rodrigo takes a direct hit to the head from a ball Leopoldo hits, which kills him instantly.


Dulce consulting a medium to figure what is happening in her house

In the present, the priest has finally figured out what the numbers mean. They are dates and time - November 11, 11:11:11 - that very day. He returns immediately to the house to tell Dulce only to find her preparing to commit suicide. He stops her and tells her that she just needs to get through this night, and everything will be fine, but he isn't allowed to stay longer because she is still technically a prisoner and it is not a "visiting day".

In the past, while the family mourns Rodrigo's death, Juan goes through Dulce's stuff and finds an old letter hidden at the bottom of a drawer. It is from another man, revealing that Leopoldo is not Juan's son and encouraging Dulce to marry Juan. Enraged at this revelation, broken by Dulce's resentment, and grief over the death of his only true son, Juan snaps and goes after Leopoldo to kill him.


The priest meeting old Dulce after she returns to the house

All this leads up to an astounding twist which brings past and present together in a unique way which is what makes this such an amazing film and one I really love. The movie is never boring, which is a huge credit to the both the director and the actors, even when the action itself seems slow, as your brain is always trying to solve what is really going on. When you do begin to see it all as a whole, your brain will thank you for giving it such a wonderful puzzle to solve.

Coming from Venezuela, the film is obviously in Spanish, and there really isn't any other language or cultural aspect to it which would make it appealing to a language learner, I confess. But, if you are looking for an intelligent thriller with a superb ending to watch while practising your Spanish (or even if you aren't), this is a definite must see film!


 
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At The Cinema - La Casa del Fin de los Tiempos
Writer: Erik Zidowecki
Sources:
• "The House at the End of Time" Internet Movie Database <http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2640474>
All images are copyright Centro Nacional Autónomo de Cinematografía (CNAC) (I), Fundación Villa del Cine, JEMD Films, Rodando Films, TRES Cinematografía, X Rojo Producciones, Xenon Films, Épica Producción

Jimmy Mello retains all copyright control over his images. They are used in Parrot Time with his expressed permission.
Maureen Millward retains all copyright control over her images. They are used in Parrot Time with her expressed permission.

All images are Copyright - CC BY-SA (Creative Commons Share Alike) by their respective owners, except for Petey, which is Public Domain (PD) or unless otherwise noted.

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