Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Film Review: The Taking of Deborah Logan (2014)

The Taking of Deborah Logan (Review)
United States/2014
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...the creepiness of the film was most effective."

A student, Mia (Michelle Ang), leads a crew in filming the vicious process of Alzheimer's from the view of Deborah Logan (Jill Larson).

The Taking of Deborah Logan follows this film crew, Deborah, and Deborah's daughter, Sarah (Anne Ramsay), as the filming occurs. It begins as expected with a few interviews and monologues about the disease and its effects, as well as a few odd occurrences. Those odd occurrences soon become more frequent and unexplainable, though, such as a window opening by itself. Eventually, Deborah becomes more aggressive. This leads Sarah and Mia to hunt for answers that can't be found in medicine. The final act becomes a bit too hectic, but it delivers some great scenes and a decent ending.

In fact, The Taking of Deborah Logan is a great film. First, the story is very effective and interesting. Although it ends up in a familiar place, the concept and buildup is somewhat unique. So, I liked the story -- simple as that. Second, the horror is very effective and even versatile. There is some genuine tension and suspense, and quite a few jolting jump-scares. But, I thought the creepiness of the film was most effective. Deborah's death stares are spine-tingling eerie! In a sense, the film reminded me strongly of The Exorcist, but with less character and buildup. In some cases, this might be preferable. (I personally love the buildup in The Exorcist, but I know some people who find it boring. Crazy, right?)

On that point, the characters were disappointing. They weren't as annoying as many of the characters we find in horror, especially found-footage films like Crowsnest, but they were still bland and somewhat annoying. I think it was the douchey humor the film tries to add. You know, when a character always has to add some sort of smart-alec comment to everything. Yeah, I really don't like that. Otherwise, the film has some plot contrivances here and there, too; they weren't too bad, though, so I don't fault it harshly for this. The hectic ending is kind of hit-and-miss. Like I said, I liked some of its unexpected elements, but it almost feels like a different movie all together.

The acting is also sort of hit-and-miss. Jill Larson and Anne Ramsay are great, they make the film so much more effective with their splendid acting. On the other hand, Michelle Ang and the supporting cast barely leave a mark -- their performances were boring and safe! None of the acting was bad per se, but disappointing compared to Larson and Ramsay. The found-footage/mockumentary style works well for the film; it uses the cone-vision to its advantage and saves itself from the notorious shaky-cam. Director and co-writer Adam Robitel lost me a bit during the ending, but delivers a very good horror movie. Robitel develops a genuine sense of terror through eerie suspense, disturbing visuals, shocking jump scares and a whole lot of creepiness.

Overall, The Taking of Deborah Logan is a very good horror film. It's very entertaining and frightening. Although not revolutionary, it uses the found-footage style as a vessel instead of a cheap gimmick. Despite some character and story flaws, the film's main purpose is to scare -- in my case, it succeeded. If you're looking for a good horror film to kill a night, take Deborah out for a spin.

Score: 7/10
Parental Guide: Violence and blood, some nudity.

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