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THE LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT OF...
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Reviewed by: Andre Manseau

Directed by: Rodrigo Gudiņo

Starring:
Vanessa Redgrave
Aaron Poole

Movie:  
star star star star
Extras:  
star star star star
Overall:  
star star star star
What's it about
Antique slinger Leon (Aaron Poole) didn't exactly get along with his Mom (Vanessa Redgrave). She's seemingly punched her own ticket and kicked the bucket, and Leon decides to look into cleaning the place out. Little does he know, his Mom was into a weird gig- she seemed to belong to a strange cult that worshipped angels.
Is it good movie?
Rodrigo Gudiņo, creator of Rue Morgue magazine (awesome) brings us his first feature film, which he both wrote and directed. He's done a few shorts in the past but this is his first full feature-length flick. I'm happy to report that it's pretty awesome!

First off, this is a pretty well-shot film. Sure, the budget's low, but using mostly one location means that you can put some work into it. The house he explores is a huge character in and of itself. Lighting is excellent and used to highlight the obvious difference between the film's dark and light themes. It's gorgeous when daylight is pouring in, and can be chaotic and terrifying with all of the religious imagery during the evening- things just feel so much more unsettling.

As for scares, don't go looking for the appearance of giant monsters or overly abundant jump moments. This one is a psychological, ambiguous tale that builds an ever-increasing sense of dread and uneasiness throughout. A good, old-fashioned ghost story.

Rosalind Leigh's dead from the start of the flick, and Vanessa Redgrave serves as our narrator guide throughout the film (which is a shame, because she's not really in the film much otherwise). Her narration is quite excellent, and doesn't go the route of cheap exposition- instead, she accentuates the information presented on screen by providing context and insight. As things ramp up, her words become more important and effective. This is an excellent performance from a wonderful actress who infuses emotion and tragedy in her voice.

To be clear, this little film is actually not one that's bogged down with a lot of cast members. For the most part, it's mostly just Leon on the screen, going through the home. Besides a few conversations with people who just aren't there (phone conversations and such), this one really goes solo. In fact, Leon himself is actually fairly quiet. Aaron Poole has a lot that's expected of him in this performance, and pulls it off really well. He comes off believable, and adds vulnerability, dimension and depth to the role. It's one of those deals where you wonder- is Leon going crazy, or is there some foundation in the world of ghosts and demons that seem to be plaguing him?

I won't spoil anything about the story arc, but I must mention my minor gripes with this one. I really enjoyed the slow, creeping build the film presents but found that it really started tripping up near the end. I wasn't pleased by the twist the flick tried to put forth and thought that after carefully crafting a great ghost story, it took a bit of a cheap shortcut to wrap up. I won't dwell on it further, but it was a bit disappointing.
Video / Audio
Video: 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, looks pretty decent, with good color balance and decent black levels. Good stuff.

Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 surround is the order of the day and it's an excellent track. Well balanced, sounds good through the surround channels. This is a movie that relies a lot on audio cues and doesn't disappoint.
The Extras
There's a commentary track from director Rodrigo Gudiņo and Stewart Andrews, and it's pretty darn good. Rodrigo is insightful, positive and enthusiastic about his first picture and it shows. This one keeps a good pace and goes from technical to waxing philosphic. Good stuff.

There's a 30 minute Making of Featurette which focuses mostly on the atmosphere and look of the film, and interviews a variety of the cast and crew.

A second, shorter feature called Mercan Dede focuses on the score of the film. It deals mostly with the composer and runs about 12 minutes.

Also included is a short film, running about six minutes called The Facts In The Case Of Mister Hollow. I wont' spoil it for you, but it's a really neat inclusion that deals with the story behind an old photograph.

Other than that, you get a still gallery.
Last Call
If you're looking for slam-bang, kick you into your seat jolt-horror, look elsewhere. This flick is a bit of a pot-boiler that may struggle a bit under its own weight, but manages to paint a creepy, effective picture as it builds slowly. Highly recommended.
ARROW IN THE HEAD'S RATING SYSTEM
star star star star I'D BUTCHER MY FAMILY TO SEE THIS AGAIN
star star star HANG ME BUT I DUG IT A LOT
star star AN OK WAY TO KILL TWO HOURS
star JUST SLING AN ARROW IN MY HEAD AND LET ME DIE IN PEACE

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