Sunday, October 20, 2013

Final Girl Film Club - The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh

To the Final Girl Film Club, Cody bequeaths this article.

Running just 73 minutes between its opening titles and end credits, writer/director Rodrigo Gudiño's The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh really only has two stars: Aaron Poole as Leon Leigh, son of the deceased Rosalind Leigh of the title, and the house which he has inherited from her.

It's mainly a one man show for Poole, as the movie focuses almost entirely on the day Leon spends alone in his estranged mother's former home, the camera lovingly panning over every inch of the place and the odd nick-nacks it's filled with, most of which are some sort of religious artifacts. Though other people are glimpsed here and there, like a church group seen when Leon checks out an old VHS his mom left behind, everyone he interacts with appears in the film solely as a voice. A couple of them are over the phone, but even when a neighbor stops by to visit, Leon keeps them on the other side of the front door, obstructing the camera's view, we only hear them. Vanessa Redgrave provides bookend narrations as the departed Rosalind to give set-up and explanation.

The fact that the house is full of religious items is an important plot point: Leon's parents were part of an angel-based cult called God's Messengers. A cult that was investigated in the death of his father when he was a child. A cult that preached beliefs his mother tormented him with, leading to their estrangement.

As Leon spends time in the house surrounded by this religious paraphernalia, old childhood wounds are re-opened, and strange things begin to happen. The strangeness begins with statues seeming to move from room to room on their own and an odd growling on the soundtrack. As day becomes a dark, stormy night, and Leon digs further into his mother's way of life, the strangeness escalates... and staying in this house could become dangerous for Rosalind's long lost son.

TLWATORL is a very slow build of a movie, and while the final moments may be a touching meditation of the idea of love, loss, and loneliness, it's probably not the payoff some viewers are going to be looking to get out of going along on that slow ride. Still, there are good ideas in there, and some good moments during the stretch of the film when the creepiness is on the rise and the audience is wondering just what direction the story is going to go in.

My favorite moment in the movie involves that VHS tape Leon watches. What the congregation prays for to happen, what they get, what Leon sees... That was really creepy.

Unfortunately, when the strangeness and horror reaches its peak, the scares are largely based around some not-quite-right CGI, and the CGI things just don't do much for me when it comes to scariness. It's not unnerving to me, I don't feel any threat from the things that aren't physically there.

The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh is an interesting movie. It's not one I would've chosen to watch, it's not one I'm very likely to watch again, but I'm glad I saw it.

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1 comment:

  1. The CGI wasn't great, yet I willed my objections to it away and the creature still worked for me. I wish I could always do that!