With the announcement this past Monday that Alejandro Hidalgo will be directing an American remake of his 2013 supernatural film The House at the End of Time for New Line, we caught up with the Venezuelan filmmaker for a chat about the project.
Having met the humble and passionate Hidalgo during 2014’s venerated Los Angeles Screamfest Horror Film Festival, at which his written, produced, and directed The House at the End of Time held its US premiere (and at which I presented him awards for “Best Picture” and “Best Director” for the same on behalf of the fest), I asked the director how his life has changed since then (the film went on to become the highest grossing Venezuelan horror movie in the country’s history).
“It really is an honor for me, and I really feel proud about it,” said Hidalgo. “I had the opportunity with my own eyes to see the success in Venezuela and the opportunity to attend one screening of my own film in a movie theater full of people, and when the movie was finished, everyone started to clap, and no one knew I was in the theater. So I really feel happy that the story has connected with the audience and that the people really love it and feel this horrific journey, but at the same time they feel touched by the story and shocked by the twist. I always dreamed of this, and now I have the opportunity to direct and produce a remake in America, so I hope the success that happened in Venezuela will happen again, but worldwide.”
The original film (titled in Venezuela La Case Del Fin de los Tiempos), which marked Hidalgo’s feature writing/directing debut, revolves around a mother (actress Rosmel Bustamante, in a powerhouse performance) who, after being imprisoned for thirty years for murdering her husband, is paroled; but upon returning to her family home, she finds that the supernatural events that led to the crime have returned to haunt her and reveal a sinister secret about the building in which she lives.
Shot over the course of forty-three days in early 2012 on the Red One camera, Hidalgo said of the production (in 2014), “For the most part we shot within the Quinta Castillete, an old house located in Caracas. This house has its own story because it was the property of Pedro Estrada, the Chief of the National Security under Marcos Pérez Jiménez, a cruel dictator in the 50’s. He was a historic character known for his political persecutions, tortures, and assassinations against those who opposed the regime. Rumor has it that many people were tortured in the house and human remains were found in the backyard. All of the mystery and darkness of the location were favorable for making the atmosphere of the film come alive.”
Much like Takashi Shimizu did with The Grudge (directing an American remake from his original Japanese feature), Hidalgo will be tackling the cultural shift in his redo of the South American-steeped The House at the End of Time. We asked him of his approach.
“I’m going to try to keep and protect the spirit, period, and essence of the original,” Hidalgo offered of his approach to the remake, which is being penned by Henry Gayden (Earth to Echo) and produced by Chris Bender (A History of Violence) and Jake Weiner (Under the Silver Lake) through their newly created company, Good Fear Film, alongside Andrés and Barbara Muschietti. The producers of the original film, Épica Producción and Jinga Films, will also be involved.
“I feel the strength of this movie is the horror elements, but of course it’s the human story in the script, so I want to protect that spirit, and of course the twist,” Hidalgo continued. ”I think that the most powerful element that the story has is this shocking twist that can open your eyes and show you another reality, and I think it’s very innovative. So my mission will be to protect this spirit and to work with this team of executive creators at New Line and of course screenwriter Henry Gayden in adapting it for North American culture, but at the same time keeping the essence and spirit of the original movie.”
As for the casting of the remake’s lead, something which will be crucial to its success given the narrative, Hidalgo told us, “ I would really like to attach a strong and powerful actress, who will be able to perform this powerful character, who goes on a full journey of emotions (in the script) from fear and horror through suspense, a mother’s love and hope, and she does it in two stages: when she is forty-five years old and when she is seventy-five. So it will be a great challenge for the actress to perform and to bring this character to life. So basically I’m looking for an actress to create and perform this character, and of course I would like to attach an important and recognized star.”
For more on the original The House at the End of Time, see our 2014 interview with Hidalgo here.