I’ve had this movie on my radar for some time now. I was going to save it for this upcoming October but I realized I tend to say that about every horror movie on my list and that turns in to me not watching the genre as much as I would like. Also, I came across a jarring gif on the internet that had me stunned. When I found out it was from The Taking of Deborah Logan the movie got bumped to the top of my list!
I wasn’t necessarily expecting a found footage film when it started, but I think I’m so numbed to the sub-genre that it didn’t phase me at all. It wasn’t a typical shaky-cam intro, however. The beginning hosted the makings of a faux documentary and served as a great set-up. A medical student is filming her thesis on Alzheimer’s Disease and its effects on not only the victim, but the family and friends in close proximity. Deborah descends into the snares of the disease at a rapid pace, almost too quickly. The film crew witnesses some inexplicable events and begins to question what is really happening with Mrs. Logan.
It sounds like your typical possession movie, and in most aspects it is, but this old woman makes this film much scarier than most of its peers. Jill Larson provides a harrowing performance and gets quite bloody and disgusting as the movie progresses. As a matter of fact, I would go as far as to say she makes the whole movie. None of the other actors really hold the film together, other than Anne Ramsey (who plays Deborah’s daughter Sarah) because she has a subtle backstory. She is portrayed as a lesbian and her mother clearly disapproves. She is always wearing flannel shirts and no make up and Deborah is always harassing her about it. She eventually tells the camera crew a short story about her teenage years kissing girls and being caught and scolded by her mother. When they call the police in the third act one of the officers is female and she clearly has a past with Sarah.
Can I just take a second to say that I love when a character has a subtle backstory? It doesn’t have to be something so indecipherable that only a genius can detect, but I do enjoy decoding a character’s past through hints rationed out in the story. For example, I think season two of True Detective is doing a great job with its character development. I love being able to zero in on the detective’s past troubles and experiences from a couple of cleverly placed reactions and instances of dialogue. Anyway, that’s a discussion for another time.
Even though Deborah turns into a frightening mess, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for her, more so in the first half before most of the paranormal shit starts going down. To think that similar things might really happen to me when I get old is a scary thought and The Taking of Deborah Logan uses that fear to lay a foundation. I hope I never get Alzheimer’s.
The film does get dragged down a little by the usual found footage cliches. The lights never work, the cameraman always sticks around too long when in immediate danger, characters do stupid things no real person would do in that situation, some questionable acting. None of those things were too extreme in this movie (except the no lights affliction) so it didn’t destroy the overall experience, only tainted it. Actually, I have to give it props for not having the cameraman swing the camera around too fast. I could always see what was happening on the screen which is too much to ask other titles in the genre. Plus, the one crew member decided to straight up leave when things with Mrs. Logan got unreasonably odd. He was smart! That would totally be me in that situation. No amount of money or fame would keep me in a house where there is danger looming!
The Taking of Deborah Logan actually has a conclusion! You might be questioning why that would warrant any fanfare but in found footage films that is usually not the case. Most of the time the movie ends abruptly in a static-filled disappointment. So good on you, writers! Although, I was not happy with the cheesy “Uh oh, it’s NOT over!” part of the ending. It didn’t make sense and was not needed. A straight up happy ending would have sufficed and would have been a breath of fresh air in an industry plagued with always needing to leave everything open for sequels.
Old people, diseases, possession, snakes, stories of murderers, corpses, peeled skin, hospitals, claustrophobia. If any of those things creep you out you should give this film a shot! I give it-
4 ridiculously receded hairlines out of 5