The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh
Directed by Rodrigo Gudino
Toronto, Ontario filmmaker Rodrigo Gudiņo's first feature-length endeavour is a quiet, spooky, dramatic thriller shrouded in religious superstition. Essentially a single character piece, The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh slowly reveals an eerie mystery involving a maternal need so potent it reverberates beyond death. Upon his mother's passing, Leon (Aaron Poole), her estranged son, returns home to attend to her estate. This mostly involves packing up her ornate, trinket-filled Victorian gothic abode. Childhood memories flit through his noticeably restless mind as he navigates the creepy corridors and daunting clutter. We don't know Leon's circumstances directly prior to his return, but Poole conveys a great deal of frazzled pain in his body language and a few phone conversations reinforce the notion that his emotional state is fragile beyond the pain of losing a loved one. When the inexplicable begins to occur, he's eager to grasp for rational answers, his desperation to retain the mental shield of reason growing palpable as symbols of faith take on a terrifying corporeal aspect. Highly atmospheric, thanks in large part to a great location (the unique Toronto house the film is shot in is featured heavily in the bonus content), ominous lighting, abstract music cues and crisp, spectral cinematography, Rosalind Leigh is a strong debut from a director who knows how to fill every frame with tension. Vanessa Redgraves's voiceover work feels a bit disconnected, but that's understandable, given that her character's deceased. Still, there's something about her delivery that doesn't quite jive with the tone of the picture. Don't let that deter you from seeing an otherwise surprisingly polished and effective low budget horror film. The DVD extras are upper-tier all the way, with the aforementioned house garnering the bulk of the attention in "Angels, Antiques and Apparitions." Interviews with Poole, Gudiņo and the DOP are well above average, discussing specific production challenges. This "Making Of" hits all the bases, from creature design to crewmember cooking tips. Clearly this is bonus content created by people who understand what savvy viewers want to see. A commentary with Gudiņo is similarly detailed, as is a feature on composer Mercan Dede, his unusual musical background and his approach to scoring this film. Additionally, one of Gudiņo's shorts, The Facts in the Case of Mister Hollow, is included. This clever little experiment tells its story by sequentially focusing on the minute details of a larger scene. It's a nice, bite-sized dessert for those who have the faith to invest their time in the unhurried horrors of Rosalind Leigh.
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