Written and directed by Rodrigo Gudiño as his first full feature The Last Will And Testament Of Rosalind Leigh is an oddity amongst the foul and facile fright filled fodder that has been recently released offering a beautiful spooky story about grief and death and the demons within us all.
After the passing of his long estranged mother Leon (Aaron Poole) heads back to his family home which he has inherited, to clear it out of all her worldly possessions. Upon arriving he is unexpectedly taken aback by the flood of memories the strange and eerie house contains as well as the masses of odd artifacts and weird antiques that his mother has collected over the years.
Triggering long suppressed events from his childhood Leon digs deeper into his mother’s past uncovering connections to a mysterious cult who believed in the power of angels.
Although a nonbeliever of his mother’s religion when strange things start to happen to him Leon realises that the spirits may be a lot more real than he ever thought and he must face his past to gain the answers to the many questions his mother’s death has left.
The bold and brilliant thing about Gudiño’s film is that the only person we ever see properly is Leon with all other characters only appearing in pictures, on video’s or as voices over the phone or hidden behind a half open door making the movie all the more atmospheric and unsettling.
The voice over of Rosalind Leigh spoken by Vanessa Redgrave frames the piece perfectly and the effect of this exclusion of characters save the main antagonist is to completely propel the audience into Leon’s isolation and situation in the same way Buried did giving us more of a connection with him and a greater sense of fear when things start to take a turn to the supernatural.
The other main character therefore is the house itself which is a treasure trove of obscure antiques, religious iconography and petrifying statues. The labyrinthine quality of the home makes it even more creepy and the ghostly floating camera which drifts through the empty rooms, wonderfully used during Leon’s childhood flashbacks, emphasisis the feeling that he is not alone.
Dealing primarily with grief this is also a story about repressed trauma, religious fundamentalism, the loss of childhood innocence and the effects of growing up and apart for both the parent and the offspring all summed up by the disturbing quote that reoccurs throughout the film and Leon’s life “Despair is the affliction of the Godless.”
Working expertly as a mood piece The Last Will And Testament Of Rosalind Leigh is all about atmosphere and the slow story builds the tension to terrifying levels with Gudiño pacing the film perfectly. That said the special effects and scares when they do come are subtly done and very effective especially the tape recorded séance and the unexplainable miracle Leon finds on a videotape.
Reminiscent of the extremely scary The Pact, The Last Will And Testament Of Rosalind Leigh is a poignant and thought provoking horror full of haunting imagery which has the evocative effect of lingering on in your mind long after it has ended.