The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh (2012)
(15) Running time: 82 minutes
Director: Rodrigo Gudino
Writer: Rodrigo Gudino
Cast: Aaron Poole, Vanessa Redgrave, Julian Richings
Reviewed by: Matt Wavish
The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh is the directorial debut of Rodrigo Gudino, founder and editor of Rue Morgue Magazine, and this creepy little tale is seriously good for more mature horror fans. Make no mistake: this isn’t for the gore hungry, scare a minute horror fan with big loud bangs and mind blowing special effects. Instead, this is a carefully crafted sinister horror flick which slowly penetrates your senses, and the horrors creep on up on as you become more immersed in the overall mystery.
Leon (Poole) has recently lost his Mother Rosalind (played as an unsettling voiceover by Redgrave), and he moves into her home, unaware of the horrors that are waiting for him there. Rosalind explains the story as she narrates her will to her Son, and Leon explores the Tardis like house. Rosalind was part of a sinister cult who would worship Angels, and we explore the house with Leon in total amazement at all the statues of Angels, and other religious pieces of artwork. The massive mansion has plenty of Church-like properties about it, including stain-glass windows and even a Church door, there is even a secret staircase to an extremely unsettling room where a stature is worshiped. The design of this house is utterly dazzling, and while the Angels being worshiped are indeed good, you can’t help but feel rather disturbed by it all.
Leon is uncomfortable, but tries to settle in, but strange noises soon start to happen, and a childhood statue of an Angel moves rooms without his help. A neighbour knocks on the door and warns of a beast loose in the woods, the lights begin to flicker and a general sense of unease is felt throughout the house. Gudino cleverly builds suspense out of an overpowering sense of doom, an atmosphere that engulfs the film to the point where the viewer is really drawn into the story. Poole gives a strong, believable performance as he alone carries the film, while Redgrave’s haunting narration will send shivers down your spine.
This film is all about the less you see, the more effective it is, and Gudino’s awesome camerawork really helps generate panic. The camera follows Leon around, as if spying, and at times (like when the neighbour calls) will focus on paintings and pictures on the wall, leaving the main point of focus in the distance, or unseen. The film also contains some horrific imagery at times: a statue’s eyes open to scream out loud effect, or a creature with glowing eyes hides in the darkness, providing some of the film’s most disturbing shots. Add to this a quiet, but menacing score and The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh turns out to be a very effective chiller for those looking for a quieter, slower horror film in the style of, say, Ti West’s House of the Devil.
It isn’t perfect, and the final third is sadly wasted as things come together a little too quickly. I felt the end could have been drawn out a little more thanks to such a powerful, and intriguing build up, but unfortunately it felt like Gudino either ran out of ideas, or wasn’t quite sure how to wrap things up. They wrap up nicely, but feel ever so slightly clumsy getting there, but the final moments are guaranteed to leave a lasting impression. The ending is baffling, but will get you thinking as to what it was all about, and it does so in a good way. Rushed as the ending was, The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh is an effective, unsettling horror with tons of good stuff.