The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh DVD Review
Written and directed by Rodrigo Guidono
2012, Region 1 (NTSC), 80 minutes, Not Rated
DVD released on July 30th, 2013
Aaron Poole as Leon
Vanessa Redgrave as Rosalind Leigh
Julian Richings as Rahn Brothers
Charlotte Sullivan as Anna
Every family has one: the religious zealot that damns you for using weapons of the devil like cell phones, the Internet or reading books that promote free thought. Just short of spiking the holiday punch full of crazy juice, these individuals deem it necessary to assure you that you'll surely burn in some lake of fire (how does that even work?) for taking a higher power's name in vain and sleeping in on Sunday mornings instead of drinking from some communal cup that definitely has at least a 75% chance of spreading herpes to all participating. Now take this whole real life scenario, add the presence of a crazy cult that worships angels and a guy's dad who offed a bunch of people and you have the backbone of The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh. Director Rodrigo Gudino brings his first feature-length film that is definitely more style than substance but still delivers that certain chill, even to nonbelievers.
Rosalind Leigh has died and her estranged son Leon has inherited the residence he once called home. Driven out by his overly religious mother after the suicide of his father, Leon comes back to a home he had long turned his back on. Upon his arrival, he sees the shrine to a mysterious cult that his mother has been victim to for all of these years. While staying in the house, Leon is overcome with the feeling that someone (or something) is watching over him and has several phone conversations with his therapist to get a grip on reality and control himself. But is what Leon is experiencing a massive hallucination brought on by years of psychological torture by his now dead mother or is she attempting to contact him from the great beyond?
The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh is an interesting attack on the senses. Using a combination of voiceovers, surreal flashbacks and just enough convolution, I found myself going back again and again to figure out whether what I was watching existed outside of Leon's head or if the religious cult that Rosalind had been overcome by was controlling more than the eye could tell. If you're someone that is looking for jumps and scares around every corner, you need to look elsewhere. This film is a slow burn. Guidino chose to write and direct a film with an extremely minimalist approach to a theme that is nothing new but just a mature and fresh. What made this a new experience for me was that Guidino leaves much of what is going on vague and to the discretion of the viewer. Is what we are seeing actually happening or are we witnessing the horrors of a mind that has been abused by a religiously fanatical mother? Whatever the case may be, it is apparent that Leon's mother continues to haunt him, figuratively and literally.
After going back and watching this a couple more times (blame my OCD), I can see why so many people will have difficulty pushing through The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh. For those looking for blood and guts and any sort of pacing beyond a slow stroll will be greatly disappointed. Others that can appreciate the kind of mood and imagery that comes with patience and an open mind will be pleasantly satisfied. Anyone who is deeply interested in religious cults (curiosity, not participation) and the affect that they have on those in and around them will have a blast with this film. I just hope this is the start of what Rodrigo Guidino has to bring to the table. As long as Clive Barker continues to give him praise, I'll keep a lookout for his next piece.
Video and Audio:
The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh is presented in 1:78:1 Anamorphic widescreen, but honestly, what isn't these days? For an independent film, everything is presented in crisp clarity and with 5.1 Dolby Digital, will look and sound awesome on your big screen while you're drinking your strangely flavored Kool-Aid, waiting for the mothership.
While the film has a mere 80 minute running time, viewers may be itching for more after everything is said and done. Fear not, because this DVD is chock-full of special features. Writer/director commentary and interview, a pretty cool “Making Of” featurette, poster and photo galleries and an exclusive interview with Mercan Dede, who scored the film all await afterward (unless you watch them first, you weirdo). There's also a short film titled The Facts in the Case of Mister Hollow, which I have no idea what the hell is doing there but is something else pretty cool to check out by Rodrigo Guidino.