Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Taking of Deborah Logan

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! Always take your Deborah Logans with water and don't operate heavy machinery afterwards.

The Taking of Deborah Logan – 4 out of 5

I had watched The Taking of Deborah Logan a year or so ago one day on a whim.  My girlfriend was scrolling through what Netflix had to offer and settled on that one.  My initial reaction as it started was a tad on the negative side because I find the horror genre to be incredibly disappointing most of the time and the film was a “found footage” feature and I rarely find them worth the time.  However, the film surprised me greatly and, since October is almost upon us and I’ll be watching more horror movies to get in the Halloween spirit, I decided to revisit this one to see if it is just as good on the second viewing.

Yep, nothing creepy about this shot cameraman.  You pervert.

A small documentary film team led by a young woman named Mia Medina (Michelle Ang) set out to document an elderly lady by the name of Deborah Logan (Jill Larson).  Deborah is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and is being cared for by her daughter Sarah (Anne Ramsey).  The illness has taken a financially toll on the family and Sarah hopes that this documentary will help them out a bit but, to both her and the film team’s surprise, Deborah is suffering from more than just a degenerative disease.  Strange and haunting events start to occur and they all soon learn that something far more sinister is at play.

Grammy is mad but she'll still make you tons of food and give you candies
because even supernatural activity can't stop her spoiling nature.

What's truly amazing is the lack of casual racism
that you'd expect from the character of Deborah.
You know, because she's old.
The thing that struck me the most about this film is the pace of it.  Never does the story feel like it’s wasting time with superfluous scares or mindless fluff meant to extend the running time.  Every second of this story feels like it is building the situation the filmmakers find themselves in and the mystery surrounding what is happening to Deborah.  Adding to that is the way the film builds with its intensity.  It begins with a creepy moment here and there where Deborah is acting strangely—which can be explained away due to her condition—but then starts the moment that are a little harder to blame on the Alzheimer’s.  By the time the film gets to its climax, the film hits a moment where everything is completely insane and bonkers and it delivers a truly WTF moment that is just as shocking the second time as it was the first time.  In any other film, this moment could have been a moment of accidental comedy or just come off as too over-the-top but the director and writers really nailed a pacing that made this larger-than-life moment seem legitimate and believable within the film’s reality.

No, this isn't a spoiler for the crazy moment at the end but this is still
really nuts.

Another aspect of the film that works very effectively are the performers.  I was impressed to see that the film actually has recognizable character actors in the cast.  While these faces may not be household names, they are definitely the actors that you find yourself saying, “Hey, I’ve seen that person before.”  Often, “found footage” films abandon this route because they are attempting to pull a trick from The Blair Witch Project and cast unknowns so they can act like that what you are seeing is real.  Since this sub-genre has essentially become a cliché now, this venture no longer feels warranted and it feels like The Taking of Deborah Logan isn’t even going to attempt to try to fool you into imagining this is real and just settled for a good cast to tell a good story—and it works.  The performances are fantastic and, even though I’ve seen some of the actors in other roles, their talents are strong enough that I was immersed into the film’s reality much more strongly than I do with the “found footage” features that bring in the less-than-talented unknowns.

I really have to point out how great Jill Larson is in this film.  She is capable of
being both a sweet grandma type and a very creepy monster type.
That's not an easy balance to master.

So now, the final question is if I found The Taking of Deborah Logan to be scary or not?  At the end of it all, that’s what we want from our horror films.  We want them to raise our blood pressure and put us on edge.  While I didn’t find the movie to be really scary, I definitely found it creepy.  Director Adam Robitel does a fantastic job of creating atmosphere and that is such a key element in horror films and one that, sadly, is passed over for formulaic stinging music and easy jump scares.  This formula in Deborah Logan makes for a horror movie that was far more satisfying and unsettling than one that would just be scary in the moment.  Plus, that final shocking reveal is scarier than a dozen films built entirely on the jump scare.

Now Michael Myers is in the house?  The Logan homestead is cursed!

With its excellent cast and fantastic execution, The Taking of Deborah Logan proves to be one of the very few truly incredible “found footage” films in existence and belongs right alongside the pioneers of this sub-genre.  While replay value might be limited because the “What the living hell?” moment at the end will lose its punch on repeated viewings, there’s no deny how unsettling and downright creepy this movie is capable of being.

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