Day 15 of 31
The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh (Horror, Mystery, Thriller, 2012) (12A) D: Rodrigo Gudino W: Rodrigo Gudino C: Aaron Poole, Vanessa Redgrave, Julian Richings. 1h 22m. Canada.
Synopsis : An antiques collector inherits a house from his estranged mother only to discover that she has been living in a shrine devoted to a mysterious cult. Soon, the comes to suspect that his mother’s oppressive spirit still lingers within her home and is using items in the house to contact him with an urgent message.
TAGLINE : Faith is Fragile
In the style of a gloomy atmospheric Gothic horror shrouded in religious iconography and dogmatic beliefs, this slowly developing quiet movie has a dark sinister horror literally running through it.
The story seems heavily inspired what appear to be personal events, childhood fears of the dark and a mother’s (domineering) love, it’s hard to imagine that it’s all been fabricated from nothing, but obviously I have no proof of this. Binding together guilt and fanaticism gives the film many dual meanings, and many people have interpreted it in many ways.
A son, Leon (Aaron Poole) returns to his mother Rosalind’s (Vanessa Redgrave) house after her death and struggles with a lifetime of emotions and oppression and heartache as he learns more about this mother after her death than when she was alive. The mansion of a house that he’s now in charge of is filled with religious icons and is in fact a shrine, but as he learns more about the cult that his mother had joined he also becomes very aware that something else has been left behind and is stalking him in the house. While this entity starts to become more apparent the film takes on a darker and more sister atmosphere and starts to loose its drama edge for a terrifying creature feature.
Seaping with sentimental drama, the film is set within a large home crowded with statues and curious. As Leon moves from room to room with a constant overture from Rosalind, the film comes across as being quite subdued and quiet. It’s far from that! While you’re presented with visuals of the almost silent young man in this strange environment, with his mother’s thoughts being vocalised, there are often many shocking truths revealed.
What really sells the movie is presentation of its more shocking and terrifying scenes. As its so quiet, it could literally be silent at times, when you’re presented with a jump scare it packs a bigger punch and is never expected, so beware.
One such scene has a superb delivery, while Leon is watching a video that his mother recorded in her church/cult there is some praying and commotion, he recognises one of the statues that they group is praying to as one that’s in the house, then it opens its eyes! I know it’s not the most terrifying movie scenario but it’s freaky as hell and i hope I’ve not spoiled the effect for anyone, but it’s not the highlight and is just an example of the style of horror in this movie.
From the beginning despite being filmed in the day time, the film is fairly dark and moody, this remains through the movie and it deals with lots of issues of being left in the dark. Darkness and lonely pretty much rule the atmosphere.
As the film has a teeny cast, in fact it’s pretty much just Leon, his mother’s voice is prevalent and a key feature but that’s almost all we have of her. I presume it was deliberate, after all she is deceased from before the start of the movie and all of her memories are her last will are simply vocalised rather than acting out his entire childhood, it’s all covered while he is coming to terms to his mother’s death.
Rosalind is an interesting character and it’s a shame that we don’t officially get to meet her, but the voice acting from Vanessa Redgrave is quite a powerful performance in itself. The script is extremely tentative and there a lot that can be read between her lines. The film is too quiet to discuss music but what it does impress with is the amazing cinematography, arranged by Samy Inayeh, and it really enhances the frequent scenes of bleeding statues, stalking creatures and curious visitors to the property.
Leon (Aaron Poole) the main person in the film has to go through a very deep roller coaster of mixed emotions, not only dealing with the suicide of his mother and getting to grips with who she became in his absence. He has a trunkload of childhood nightmares and attrition to come to terms with. The more he learns the harder his strife.
The Catholic upbringing of director Rodrigo Gudino and Stanley Kubrick are both huge inspirations. The Kubrick connection can be seen in the pace, filming locally and possibly how the film is set in two distinct halves. The catholicism permeates heavily until near the end of the film. But it’s always fascinating when a director makes a project out of something heartfelt.
Rosalind Leigh works for me, I adore re watching this movie, it digs at the brain and tangles up the thought patterns. I’ve never had any religious guilt trips placed on me but I can identify with the characters, they are very so very real, this is why it brings the horror home to nest. The only let down, if I was pushed to find something, would be the lack of a soundtrack. Now while it’s very interesting that film doesn’t boom music at you constantly it could have enhanced some of the horror and drama scenes.
The way I see things is that the driving force behind the movie is this “Religion can drive people apart” Now I’m not saying that this applies to everyone who considers themselves religious, after all most religions aim to pull people together and to help one another, but there are always fanatics who get things messed up, how many parents drive their children away for not conforming? This just illustrates what “can” happen and how devastating it can be for both parties.
I think adapting the catholicism into this unnamed cult, is an attempt to stop viewers at pointing the finger at this known religion, instead to help them lump the blame with “religion” as a blanket term. I suppose if your uber religious then you’ll be better off avoiding this, if you have been outcast due to religious differences then this might dig up a reason to go and see your therapist. Otherwise if you’re a fan of gothic horrors, or if you just prefer something a little more mature and refined that will shock the cerebral without the use of gore then this will entertain and shock.V: While the movie is not lacking in substance, it doesn’t untap all of it’s full potential but it’s still a thrilling horror movie, the atmosphere is perfect, the house itself and the setting is both claustrophobic and very unsettling. While the CG involved with the creature is a little low budget it doesn’t deter from the sheer horror it does create, and is heavily enhanced with great cinematography and very terrifying sound effects. I can’t recommend this movie enough, it’s hard to work out why it scores so low but it’s not a gore movie and I think there has been a shift to gore instead of horror lately. but it’s definitely something for true horror fans with a solid story and great acting.
Rating – 8/10
R: The Facts in the case of Mister Hollow (2008) , The Possession (2013) , The taking of Deborah Logan (2014) .
5B : Vanessa Redgrave
L: Haunted Houses, Selected Ghost movies, Haunted houses, Angels
PD : Post Discussion to come