The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh (2012)
Review by Jude Felton
Rue Morgue magazine head honcho, and former editor, Rodrigo Gudino has been keeping himself very busy of late. Having made several short films over the past few years, he has now moved on to the feature length format, with The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh.
Although I have not seen all of his shorts, I did have the pleasure of watching The Facts in the Case of Mister Hollow, which you can find on YouTube. Just from watching that I could tell that Gudino’s work would be offering up something a little different from the norm, and this feature film further cements those thoughts.
Before I talk about the film itself, I should say that if you are expecting a disposable slice of pulp horror you will be seriously disappointed. If, on the other hand, you want to watch a genuinely creepy slice of cerebral horror, you have come to the right place.
The story of The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh follows Leon, an antiques collector, who inherits a house from his deceased mother, the Rosalind Leigh of the title. However, it soon becomes apparent that this house contains many secrets, of which are slowly revealed to Leon, and on top of that there appears to be someone, or something, in the house. To explain too much about this film would be to give too much away, with it instead being the sort of film that you should go into knowing the bare minimum.
Accompanying Leon’s tale is a narration from Rosalind Leigh herself, voiced by Vanessa Redgrave, which is delivered with such passion and emotional it adds so much to the events unraveling on screen. This, along with the on screen plight of Leon, both combine to further the story forward, each revealing more of what is going on inside the house.
The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh is a quite beautiful film to watch, the camera glides around the house seamlessly acting as our guide to the sinister tale. The house itself is a thing of mysterious beauty, and it really does pay to keep close attention to everything you see, as clues seem to be there just waiting to be taken in.
The cast of the film is small, with the focus being solely on Leon, played by Aaron Poole. The rest of the cast is mainly comprised of voices on the telephone, along with Redgrave’s narration, although Gudino himself does pop up briefly. It is Poole that carries the emotional weight of the film though, and it’s a job he does incredibly well.
In terms of the film’s structure, Gudino is more than happy for the film to slowly build to its climax. There are no fast edits and quick cuts, with the film taking its good sweet time to slowly unravel. This along with the wonderful score combines perfectly to gradually build the tension and deliver some wonderfully creepy moments.
The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh is a film that requires patience and appreciation of the slow burn. There is always something going on, but the film moves in time with the elegant camerawork to deliver a most enjoyable movie.
It’s always a pleasure to watch a horror film, and this is a horror film, that offers up something different from what so often gets pumped out there. It also goes to show that Canadian cinema continues to deliver the goods in the fright department. Judging from this, and Mister Hollow, you can rest assured that Gudino is a director that you should pay attention to, as he’s already off to a great start to his filmmaking career.
Anchor Bay will be releasing The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh in Canada in the Spring, with a US and UK release to follow. Full details as they become available.