Every once in a while, a movie comes along that leaves a long lasting impression, and a true appreciation for the genre. The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh is one I’m sure I will revisit again. It pretty much hit the spot for me personally.
Leon’s estranged mother passed away, and he inherits her house along with everything left in it. This house is cluttered, to put it mildly, with many interesting antiques and artifacts, including many religious statues – mostly of angels. Talk about a perfect setting to tell a story like this. Even during daytime scenes when we are introduced to the house I was thinking to myself, “Man, I’d get the hell out, like now!.”
Some of the stuff in there seemed way over-the-top to believe that an old widow would decorate her house with, but maybe not when you consider what the story slowly reveals about the woman.
The setting is creepy and dripping with atmosphere. The camera work is also outstanding. Director Rodrigo Gudino (founder of horror magazine, Rue Morgue), is impressive in his feature-length debut. This film really is beautifully shot and nice to look at.
This isn’t hardcore horror, and avoids a lot of the cliches seen in recent horror films that have made tons of cash on the big screen. There are plenty of subtleties to soak in. The tension and dread built up as the character of Leon begins to discover there is much more at play in the house, is cleverly paced and presented. I’m sure plenty of horror fans used to lots of gore and jump scare after jump scare, might be put off by the quiet nature of the horror in this film. As stated in the beginning of this review, it truly hit most of the right spots for me as a fan of unsettling, subtle and genuinely disturbing horror.
I have always had a penchant for getting scared of religious type horror i.e. The Exorcist III. The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh is a different film from that one, of course, but some of the imagery certainly brought to mind some of the great stuff that William Peter Blatty presented to us back in the day. Statues of religious icons and angels get me every time as long as they are presented well in excellently crafted scenes, and Rodrigo Gudino succeeded in spades in that aspect.
This is the kind of film that needs to be seen more than once. Not because the story is that complex or even pretends to be, but because there are a lot of elements and things for the viewer to consider.
Is Leon really being haunted by some demon(s) or ghost of his mother, or is he just losing his mind, mixed in with the guilt and maybe some psychological abuse he may have experienced growing up? I believe a lot of those elements are present, and this is what I really like about it.
Speaking of Leon, actor Aaron Poole must be commended for doing such a good job. He’s pretty much on his own in this movie and does a decent job in convincing the viewer that he is experiencing what he is in that house.
The narrator of this tale is Leon’s mother herself, Rosalind Leigh. Her voice and delivery gave me chills at times. Great job by Vanessa Redgrave. Truly wonderful stuff.
The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh is very easy for me to recommend. It is rare indeed to find a refreshing take on the genre like this. Hopefully Director Rodrigo Gudino has some more gems up his sleeve to unleash on us in the future.