The Taking of Deborah Logan entices with imagery but lets you down with found footage clichés

Some movies can provoke your interest with the power of imagery. A certain still from the movie The Taking of Deborah Logan had me hook, line, and sinker. What I spent about an hour and a half on to get an experience out of after that small taste could have easily been just as fulfilled as seeing that still or at least that scene. If you want to watch a nuanced possession film and already have your heart set on this one, maybe reading on to see why this isn’t the movie you’re looking for could help you out. If you saw that same eerie picture from the movie that I had and now you’re just confirming with other horror reviews to see if it’s worth it, read no further: it kind of isn’t.

The Taking of Deborah Logan (2014) is the feature film directorial debut of American director Adam Robitel, also writing the script with Canadian filmmaker Gavin Hefferman. It received mixed reviews as it made its rounds to online movie reviewers, mostly being noted for its appeal as a found footage flick. While some critics thought that it effectively added to the subgenre, a few notable reviewers said that aside from a few minutes at the ending, this film had no great appeal and brings nothing new to the table.

The movie has a pretty good start (or at least it would have been if it stuck with something that isn’t done-to-death like Alzheimer’s or mental illness as the movie monster theme): a documentary team of young filmmakers set out to do an informative piece on Alzheimer’s while profiling Deborah Logan, a woman with the degenerative brain disease. Mia leads the team and becomes the prime driver of the plot during the first half of the film while her companions Gavin and Luis provide some comic relief (though I don’t know if it was intentional or not). Deborah is against the idea initially, but is persuaded by her daughter, Sarah, since the family needs the money after her telecommunication business went under.

the-taking-of-deborah-logan-3While she initially exhibited signs of Alzheimer’s (forgetfulness, stress, fatigue), she begins to act much more supernaturally. Without giving too much away, it turns out that this is another possession movie – one of slightly absurd proportions. It’s also kinda insulting to the viewer’s intelligence when it opens up vaguely describing this movie as a somewhat true piece, saying: “The following film includes a partly edited medical documentary, outtakes, and surveillance footage from the scenes of the crime”. This is definitely not the first time a movie has done this, but at least with movies like The Blair With Project (1999), you could suspend your disbelief and it wasn’t over-explained. Actually, the fact that you didn’t know how to explain what you were seeing made it all the more effective as a “found footage” piece.

It’s really just another one of these “true story” horror films that are getting a little tired, but this week’s theme is Alzheimer’s – I suppose trying to come across as a piece that raises awareness towards the disease but kind of just alienates those who have it even further. It then occurs to me that the movie doesn’t even try to hold up this bit of originality as the theme, but cops out to a demonic possession. Of course, I should have probably expected this since the movie is literally called “The Taking of Deborah Logan”, but I figured this might have a sort of double meaning or metaphor – like the disease is a form of possession, taking over the person’s psychological state. Nope – none of that. The soul of a deranged serial killer took over Deborah Logan and tries to use her as a vessel to complete a ritual that would grant his own immortality.

Aside from soap opera star Jill Larson (who plays as Deborah Logan herself), you probably haven’t heard of the actors that star here. Some of them aren’t bad at all, like Anne Ramsay who plays as Deborah’s daughter, Sarah. Others are largely forgettable like Michelle Ang, whose acting was a little unconvincing sometimes.

It comes to the point where at the ending you don’t really even give a shit if it’s a cliff hanger or not. I tried to like this movie – I really did. Adoration for a film should come naturally, it should never be forced. Still, seeing some of the promotional stills (one of them being a screen cap from the ending, i.e., the only real reason I wanted to watch this movie), I couldn’t help but get excited. I’m let down by how much of a typical horror flick it ended up being, though I can appreciate that it at least had me going for a while at the beginning of the movie. Oh well – easy come, easy go.

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