The Last Will & Testament of Rosalind Leigh (2012)

Back in August, Sue and I stumbled across a booth at Fan Expo that was made to look like a corner of an eclectic, yet strangely lovely room.  But looking at it you just know that there’s something off about it. There’s a large statue of an angel in the middle of the room, bracketed by two easy chairs, surrounded by doilies, pictures, stitchwork, VHS tapes labeled “BELIEVE” just a whole bunch of odd things that taken singly are alright, but when added up, one upon the other, just gets under your skin somehow with a genuine creep factor.

I didn’t think anything of it, until we made our way along the table that edged the booth, and saw a poster for the film (created by a friend of Sue’s Ghoulish Gary!), it was so arresting in it’s perceived simplicity that it caused me to stop and watch the trailer that was playing on loop, even though I couldn’t hear all of it.

The imagery of what I was seeing in the trailer just exuded an oozing, slow-moving creep factor that could just put you on edge.

I was hooked, and didn’t even know anything about the film at that point except that it somehow focussed on an Angel Cult.

Through the kind efforts of the film’s director Rodrigo Guidno and his producer Marco Pecota, they arranged a viewing for Sue and I.

Wow.

This is a movie that is simply beautiful to watch, it’s framing, the shot composition, the camera movement, from the opening frames of the film, I was hooked.

Leon (Aaron Poole) returns to his mother’s home after she dies, to settle her affairs, and finds the house is a shrine to a cult that worships angels, a cult Leon walked away from. Amidst the statues and ominous stitchwork (with some very unnerving phrases like “If you drop a knife on the floor a man will knock on the door, a spoon and a woman will knock, if a fork it will be neither” – CREEPY!!), there is undeniably the presence of something or someone else in the house with him. Is his mother still here? Is she trying to tell him something?

That is a creepy premise right there and it’s executed brilliantly, but if you’re like me, a Doctor Who fan, then the creep fan is elevated tenfold, because the entire house is filled with stone angels of varying sizes. I was on edge right away.

As the founder and founding editor of Rue Morgue magazine, writer and director Rodrigo Gudino knows what works in terms of creepy, and this, his first full length feature shows that he can put all he knows to good use.

Vanessa Redgrave gives Rosalind her voice, as we tour the stops of Leon’s life, and the empty rooms he’s left in the house, and in Rosalind’s life. Her voiceover is in turns eerie, frightening and heartbreakingly sad, and Gudino scored a coup getting her for this film. A large portion of the film relies on the voices we as the audience hear, and Redgrave’s hooks us, entwining us in the web of the story, captive to everything we see on the screen.

The film doesn’t rely on pointless jump scares (there’s a few in the film, and for one scene you simply know its going to happen, it’s the when of it that caught me), but when they do occur, they aren’t cheap, gotcha moments, they impact the story in what they reveal about the events going on around Leon.

There’s nothing cheap or trite about the entire film, is gorgeously shot and made, the story is involving, and gets under your skin, I’ve been dwelling on it for a couple of days now, and I can’t wait to rewatch it.

Aaron Poole does a fantastic job as a practical one man show. No one else is seen on camera at the same time as him, his character is completely isolated from everyone else, we never see him share the screen with anyone else, he may be talking to someone through a slightly open door, or on the phone, or watching a disturbing video, but he’s always alone. Until the Thing from the woods shows up, and that’s just creepy.

Watch for a cameo by the film’s director at the end of the film, he’s a cop.

There’s a brilliant shift in creepy to heartbreak as the film draws to its stunning conclusion, and it changes everything you just watched, allowing you to see it in a new way. Brilliant.

This film is best watched in the dark, clutching a pillow, and maybe a couple of candles flickering… or maybe no candles, not sure how I feel about them after this film, and I never liked angel statues even before Doctor Who, so this film just helped to cement that dislike a little more into place.

The film has been picked up for domestic release by the awesome Anchor Bay!

Watch for it! I can’t wait to get my hands on my copy!

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