The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh (Rodrigo Gudiño, 2012)
One of the Facebook groups to which I subscribe is a fan club for Welsh author Wayne Simmons. Every once in a while one of the moderators will pop out one of those ‘what are you listening to right now?” questions. A month or so ago, it was “what horror film are you most looking forward to seeing?” From those across the pond, the answer was close to unanimous (and close to instantaneous)—The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh. I’d heard of the film before, but the only thing that had stuck in my mind was that Vanessa Redgrave starred. Last week, it showed up on Netflix Instant, and I remembered that thread, so I fired it up and sat down to give it a go. They were right, every one of them; this movie lived up to the hype and then some. That said, while it treads the line between supernatural drama and horror—Gudiño is certainly exploring the former in this film, though he throws in enough jumps to keep fans of the latter interested—it is that rare beast that, I think, will satisfy fans of both genres.
Plot: Rosalind Leigh (Vanessa Redgrave, whose last foray into big-screen horror was the infamous 1971 film The Devils) has died recently; we never actually see her, except in video footage, but she narrates the film. Its actual main character is Leon (The Conspiracy‘s Aaron Poole), her son, who has returned to the family pile in order to put Rosalind’s affairs in order, get her things sold, etc. He knew, we discover early on, that she was involved in a weird new age cult; on his first night staying in the house, however, he discovers she was much more involved than he knew, and that the cult may be more dangerous than he suspected.
There are obvious echoes of a number of other movies here, ranging from any selection of Hammer classics you can name to the more recent Lovely Molly and Kill List, but Gudiño, who also wrote, has his own vision and his own voice, and there is no question of The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh is its own film. As with many of the more recent horror films I have found myself loving, this is slow, introspective, much more on the atmosphere side of things than the jump side of things. If you were that guy (the only person in the room, or on the planet maybe, who actually liked, say, An American Haunting), then The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh is not the movie for you. If you like character-driven films that aim to disturb rather than scare, where the queasiness in your belly comes from what you see out of the corner of your eye rather than the buckets of fake blood the special effects guy used, this movie is going to be right up your alley. One of the best horror films so far this decade, as far as I’m concerned. ****