The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh (2012)
IT’S NOT OCTOBER YET, but we totally went and saw a scary movie.
A: The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh is a Canadian horror film that recently had a very limited release at Cineplex Yonge and Dundas in Toronto. It’s written and directed by one of the publishers of Rue Morgue. I was pretty excited for this film. Canadian production starring Vanessa Redgrave (mad respect), seemed to be getting really good reviews, creepy story about cults and ghosts - LOVIN’ IT. But ultimately, it winds up being a whole lotta meh with shades of boring.
Leon Leigh (Aaron Poole) goes to his mother’s house after she dies to deal with the estate or something. The house filled with religious relics, medieval art, and busted antiques – creepy. Leon stays the night, half-heartedly going through stuff and slowly getting spooked. He’s either being haunted by his mother, an angel statue, a monster thing, or the angel cult his mother was part of really wants him to be their new member and they are really fucking pushy about it.
It’s an interesting albeit overused concept, but the script has sad and sympathetic undertones that make it more elegant than a general ghost movie. It’s the closest filmic representation of a gothic ghost story that I’ve ever seen. The script is very good. Rodrigo Gudiño is fairly talented and there are decent scares and some really nice framing and shots. The house they found to shoot in is incredible and automatically gives the film its atmosphere.
But the things is, it gets a little annoying to be teased for an hour and a half with jump scares that don’t really amount to anything. That’s a good technique for building suspense, but when used the whole time it makes the film booooooring – show me! Conversely though, there’s too much CGI used for the monster thing; it was better when we didn’t see it. I’m contradictory, I know.
Also, the film is tricky - it doesn’t actually star Vanessa Redgrave, she just provides voiceover work.
Anyway, the film wouldn’t even be that bad and I might have been more inclined to like it if it hadn’t been for the god-awful question and answer session that I experienced after the screening. First of all, the producer seemed to think it was his time to shine and took over, fielding questions and answering almost all of them while trying to make jokes about the production and inserting himself into a lot of it. It was bizarre. Meanwhile, the lead actor was mostly silent and the director didn’t really say anything. And when describing his idea for the film, the director said it was written while he was working on something bigger but Telefilm Canada asked him to.
Ok. But could you at least act like you’re interested? Could you be a little enthusiastic about your work? Could you say something fucking interesting about it instead of just standing around? No? Fair enough. Maybe you’re just not into it. Perhaps you’re shy. And who am I to judge, I haven’t made a film. But I watched this film. And I’m giving it a big ol’ MEH.
S: I had never heard of this flick before, but going to limited events makes me feel like a baller, so I was down as soon as I got the invite. Plus, apparently Clive Barker liked it, and I like him, so same same.
The movie itself is just okay. Leon goes home after his mama dies, she was uber religious so her house is creepy (read: fantastic), and then there’s some weird stuff with a wild animal/possibly a cult. He stays longer than I would have, as tends to happen in horror movies. I learned that I am a huge wimp when it comes to statues with human eyes. I almost noped on out of the theatre during a dream sequence. I thought the score was well done, as it kept me tense, and I quite liked the lead, which was surprising as I was sure I wouldn’t.
What stopped this movie from actually being good was the totally not-terrifying CGI creature. As soon as you get up close and personal with this creepy monster, you’re like “Oh, it’s just the Grinch, never mind”. The story was also a little lackluster, just a bunch of elements thrown together that could have been something really interesting, but never fully played out. Prime example - apparently Leon was an antiques collector of sorts? I didn’t catch that at all in the film. I spent 90% of the movie thinking he was a random found items artist, and 10% thinking he was just a crazy hobo. If you’re going to add in some cool, fun fact like that, let’s dwell on it for a bit and maybe talk about why it is even remotely relevant.
What pushed the film in to being totally terrible for me was the awful Q&A session following. I don’t do well with Q&A’s in general, because I hate people and their stupid questions, but I have managed to sit through and be surprised by a few. This was not one of them. It was painful. A already outlined the issues with the panel, but let me add:
Do not ask an actor if they felt as scared acting in the film as you felt watching the film. The answer is going to be NO, because they are an actor and they are acting. And if for some reason the answer is YES, it is still not a good question, because people like me in the audience will hate on you and blog about it.
Should you see this? Meh. Maybe. If you can find it somewhere and you’re bored. Just don’t make it the headliner of your evening.