Leon is a young man who deals with antiques, and inherits his estranged mother’s house and belongings after her suicide. He arrives at the house, and takes a look at the inventory, all the while we get a narration delivered by the deceased. Rosalind Leigh, the mother, gives a monologue about her life where she describes the overwhelming loneliness she felt after her son rejected her due to their difference in faith and his negative religious experiences throughout his childhood. She describes how she, during the remainder of her life, feared he would never regain his faith or return to her, but she kept waiting. While wandering through his mother’s old house and her belongings, he discovers that it was actually she who was his anonymous benefactor who bought all the items of antiquity he sold. The more he looks through his mother’s belongings, the more he feels that he is surrounded by sinister figures and starts having hallucinations that rocks his skeptic foundation to the core.
The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh is a horror movie directed by Rodrigo Gudiño, and is one of those typical horror films that is bound to have very split opinions: you’ll either think of it as a sluggish, boring snoozefest, or you’ll be intrigued by the atmosphere, underlying messages and metaphors. And while I have to agree that the film didn’t really tap into all the potential it could have had, I still enjoyed its ominous feeling of unease which was blended so well with the main character’s surroundings. In fact, Rodrigo drove around Toronto looking at houses, until he found one that was owned by a mother and daughter who were eccentric Collectors. And it sure was a perfect fit. It’s filled with knick-knacks, huge statues, old dolls and whatnot. The imagery, cinematography and lightning are all spot-on, and the voice-over by the deceased woman is an excellent touch, with her moody and husky voice.
There are a few flashback scenes presented, where the mother starts seeing a demonic cat-like entity concurrently with her failure to deal with her loneliness. Rosalind appears to have sought some kind of comfort from joining a religious cult, some kind of “angel cult”, taking her religious beliefs and eccentricities to another level. I personally wish this could have been explored a bit further, but we never really got to know too much about this cult she was an apparent member of. We do get more than a few glimpses into Rosalind’s gradually destroyed psyche, however, which is not directly in correlation with the cult, but rather how her faith overpowers her despite being the sole reason for the destruction of the relationship with her son. Leon, on the other hand, is clearly struggling as well. While wandering the house and pretty much attacked with ptsd-triggers all around, he keeps calling his girlfriend psychologist. There’s suffering and sadness all around, coming from both perspectives.
Overall, The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh is an atmospheric, gothic ghost story and sombre tale about loneliness and the monster it can turn into, and how faith can not only bring people together, but also bring them completely apart. It’s definitely intended for a mature audience, very low-key, vague and a bit up for interpretation, and we all know that this kind of recipe doesn’t always taste well for everyone. However, it can hit the right strings if you can appreciate this sort of film, and you might find it intriguing and delightful. A pure slow burner indeed, but the atmosphere is plentiful with the creepy house and all the collectables inside.
Writer and director: Rodrigo Gudiño
Country & year: Canada, 2012
Actors: Aaron Poole, Vanessa Redgrave, Julian Richings, Stephen Eric McIntyre, Charlotte Sullivan, Mitch Markowitz, Sarah Illiatovitch-Goldman, Rodrigo Gudiño, Bob Dorsey, Rogelio Gudiño,