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