By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)
One unique gem for fans of the classic ghost story formula to watch is The Last Will and Testament of Rosaland Leigh. This movie originally released back in 2012 and it is one I frequently watch because it is very poetic, very lucid. It’s produced, written and directed by Rodrigo Gudiño, the founder of Rue Morgue Magazine. To liken it to any other films might give too much of this movie way and ruin the beauty of this film.
When Leon (Aaron Poole) has to settle the affairs of his deceased mother’s home, the horrors he experiences are not his own making. He’s just one of the few main actors who have to carefully navigate through unfortunate memories. As for what they represent, that’s left up to the viewer to decide.
This film nicely avoids all the problematical cinematic tropes that plague horror films today. Instead of shocking audiences with cheap scares, this one plays with the imagination. That is, the power of suggestion does a better job at implying something is out there. When Leon tours the old estate, he finds many reminders of his troubled past. When he discovers more evidence of his mother’s obsession with angelic iconography, he starts to wonder why he is even back.
This film’s pacing is very slow and this technique works in favour to allow moments from Cloris Leachman to wistfully narrate this tale. She does a wonderful job of letting viewers know that she is very much alive in Leon’s memories. The pans and tracking seem to imply that the memories of this homestead are from her point of view.
As for what is troubling Leon, the implications seem terrifying. Gudiño’s breakout film is pretty much being misunderstood by the masses. This work is very much about isolation in more ways than one. Perhaps that’s why mother and son became so estranged. They never understood each other, and they were simply never close. The torment being felt is personal than about physical space.
If audiences believe that Oren Peli, James Wan and Scott Derrickson are the new Masters of Horror, then they should truly evaluate just what they have done to date from a literary perspective. A few of their recent works are slight improvements, but those films still do not get under my skin. Even better, maybe they should try to spend a night in Ancient Ram Inn at Gloucestershire, England. There’s nothing like some simple old world terror to get the heart thumping! Thanks to publishing Rue Morgue for more than 20 years, Rodrigo Gudiño has many more years of experience in criticism and disseminating a horror product than these three talents combined. When he was editor of the magazine, he only wanted the best material to be featured as the magazine’s content. It was a connoisseur’s ‘zine which easily rivaled Fangoria.
To see Gudiño twist around the classic ghost story formula may not be anything new for those who have been enjoying the genre for decades, but long-time fans will find this film exceptional for the emotions it evokes. The clever camerawork did the more job very well. He demonstrates a talent that is rarely seen these days. He is an auteur in the truest sense of the word.
DVD Bonus Material
- Commentary by director
- Angels, Antiques & Apparitions: Making of Featurette
- Mercan Dede Featurette
- Original Trailers & Screenplay
- Posters & Publicity Stills
- The Facts in the Case of Mister Hollow short film