M.L. Miller here! As I go into the tenth year of reviewing horror films, I wanted to go back to the beginning and repost some of the films I loved. Moving on to Year Three of my decade-long Retro-Best in Horror recap Countdowns begins officially on October 1, 2012 and goes through September 30, 2013. I have posted compilation lists in the past, but a lot of those old reviews haven’t seen the light of day since they were first posted many moons ago. Being the OCD person that I am, I have also worked and reworked the list, looking back at my own choices and shifting them around, and even adding a few that I might have missed or looked over from the year in question. So, if you think you know how these lists are going to turn out, you don’t!
How did I compile this list? I simply looked through films released between October 1st, 2012 and September 30, 2013 and worked and reworked the list until I had the magic number—31. Again, I never call myself any kind of expert in horror. I simply watch a lot of horror films and love writing about them. Don’t forget to like and share my picks with your pals across the web on your own personal social media. Chime in after the review and let me know what you think of the film, how on the nose or mind-numbingly wrong I am, or most importantly, come up with your own darn list…let’s go!
Released on July 30, 2013 and available on digital download, On Demand and BluRay/DVD here!
THE LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT OF ROSALIND LEIGH (2012)
Directed by Rodrigo Gudino
Written by Marco Pecota
Starring Aaron Poole, Vanessa Redgrave, Julian Richings, Stephen Eric McIntyre, Charlotte Sullivan, Mitch Markowitz
Find out more about this film here!
Though the first half hour of THE LAST WILL & TESTAMENT OF ROSALIND LEIGH may be a workout for those with an itchy fast-forward finger, the slow build and bone-chilling payoff of the last forty minutes of this film make the wait very much worthwhile. I have to admit, I was losing interest when this unconventional film opened up with a lengthy narration from an elderly woman (Rosalind Leigh voiced by Vanessa Redgrave) talking about life, death, and everything in between and afterwards as the camera slowly pans and focuses on one still-life shot of inanimate objects after another. But that is the beauty of this film. Like a subtle serpent slithering its way around one’s neck, you don’t know that you’re in trouble until it’s too late.
I don’t think I can stress enough how slow this film is. I imagine this can be a true litmus test to see whether one has patience with a film and faith that it is going somewhere or one who needs a jump scare every three minutes like big Hollywood producers think all audiences want and need. This film doesn’t give a shit about any of that. It confidently waits to strike and once it does, it leaves a huge mark.
Aaron Poole plays Leon and looks and sounds a lot like BREAKING BAD’s Aaron Paul. He is returning to his childhood home after his mother died to find it turned into a museum of sorts. He finds that his mother, Rosalind, who was always a religious woman and not above using terribly abusive techniques to try to make Leon do the same, was also a part of a Cult that worships angels lead by a set of creepy twins played by gaunt actor Julian Richings. Throughout the film, this cult begins to make its presence known via a neighbor at the door who we never see, a creepy video tape which may have captured a miracle, and a creeping demon in the forest outside of the house.
Poole’s Leon is our eyes and ears here as he wanders through the creepy house. Much of this film is silent, with Poole the only person in frame. Being able to carry a film all by oneself is a tough thing to do, but Poole does it with ease, making all the right moves be they shuddering in terror, melancholically leafing through old memoirs of his mother, lovingly talking with his therapist girlfriend on the phone, or trying to understand the creepy things that are happening all around.
In most haunted house films, the obvious solution is to get the fuck out of the house. Here, that is not an option with a slinking demon cat creature outside and the house itself not really giving Leon a chance to decide he should leave in the abrupt and thunderous visual and aural assault that occurs in the final moments. Undeniably unnerving and relentlessly chilling, THE LAST WILL & TESTAMENT OF ROSALIND LEIGH is one of my favorite films I’ve seen recently. It’s one of those films that doesn’t grab you in the beginning, but the skeleton-rattling payoff in the last half hour makes the wait a worthwhile one.
THE 2012-2013 COUNTDOWN!
#30 – THE LAST WILL & TESTAMENT OF ROSALIND LEIGH
#31 – I DIDN’T COME HERE TO DIE
M. L. Miller is a wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of MLMILLERWRITES.COM. Follow @Mark_L_Miller.
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