Movie Review: The Taking of Deborah Logan (2014)
“Evil lives within you”
The Taking of Deborah Logan (2016)
Director: Adam Robitel
Cast: Jill Larson, Anne Ramsay, Michelle Ang
Synopsis: A documentary crew filming an elderly woman’s battle with Alzheimer’s discover that she is actually suffering something far more sinister.
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It was presumably financial considerations that led Adam Robitel to make his debut feature, The Taking of Deborah Logan, as a found footage movie, because it’s a rare example of a film made in the genre which would have probably worked better as a straightforward horror. Found footage movies are great at conveying a claustrophobic sense of terror as panicky characters see their doom closing in on them while being chased around dark corridors or tunnels, but they’re not really suitable for a story which records the possession of a vulnerable old person by some malevolent force.
The person in question is title character Deborah Logan (Jill Larson), an Alzheimer’s sufferer who’s the subject of a student documentary movie about the impact of the disease on its victims and their families. Deborah is cared for by her daughter, Sarah (Anne Ramsay), although the frequency and severity of her symptoms suggest that she should really be receiving professional care. Hospital tests suggest that Deborah has an unusually aggressive form of the disease, but footage of her nocturnal ramblings suggest that there is something far more sinister behind her strange behaviour.
As well as departing from the usual found footage plotline, The Taking of Deborah Logan is unique in that all but one of its key characters is a female. Jill Larson, who has the kind of eyes that require little work on her part to creep you out, is the focus of much of the footage, but the film’s source of strength is to be found in the unlikely shape of her daughter, who is initially portrayed as a rather weak, ingratiating woman who’s starting to lean a little too heavily on the booze to get her through. Also prominent is Michelle Ang as the student making the movie, although she’s given little to do other than to look worried – which, to be fair, she does very well.
Robitel tries hard to wring tension from the scenarios created by his and Gavin Hefferman’s screenplay, but is tripped up by his use of cheap tricks such as too many sudden loud noises and people neglecting to turn on lights when they run in and out of dark rooms. There’s also a surprisingly low body count for a horror, with more attention paid to Deborah’s physical and mental deterioration than to any threat she might pose to those around her. It’s put together well, but The Taking of Deborah Logan never really gets us hooked, although the final showdown in a network of abandoned cave tunnels does at least contain a gruesome image that is likely to stay with you long after all details of the rest of the film have faded from your memory.
(Reviewed 8th October 2016)