Monday, April 11, 2016
The Taking of Deborah Logan (2014) review
It's always good to discover a hidden gem in the world of horror, as too many lackluster rip-offs and low-budget failures make up the genre today. The Taking of Deborah Logan is an underrated horror film that, though is quite derivative, borrows from all the right places. At some parts, the script flops and the plot's many twists don't add up, but for the most part, this is an all-around creepy, well-acted, and exciting horror film. At least it's better than a lot of the poor excuses nowadays.
PLOT: Mia (Michelle Ang) and her camera crew venture out to document the life of Deborah Logan (Jill Larson), a woman suffering from the early sings of Alzheimer's disease. Deborah's daughter, Sarah (Anne Ramsay), has been staying with Deborah as her disease begins to drain her memory. As the crew gathers footage for their Alzheimer's special, strange things start to happen to Deborah and the people around her. Her disease starts to spread faster, her tantrums start to get more violent, and unjustifiable occurrences start to take place in the family household. The crew slowly moves from documentary mode to investigative mode once these occurrences begin, causing them to uncover some serious mysteries about Deborah's life and former clients. As clues are slowly uncovered, Deborah's condition seems to escalate from Alzheimer's patient to the possessed. The plot is a very cool idea. The whole "found footage" aspect isn't so fresh anymore, but the more specific details make the film seem real unique. It's a documentary gone wrong in the most haywire fashion. Who goes to film an Alzheimer's documentary and expects to get caught in a story of possession? It's a found footage film meets a paranormal investigation. Neither idea is fresh, but combining them has seemed to work in the past.
ACTING: The performances in this film are actually quite great. The star of the show was definitely Jill Larson as the possessed Deborah Logan. Larson portrays Logan's descent into madness and possession in such a way one would get chills. Fully-expressive facial contortions, powerful speech, and accurate motions define the frightening change in Deborah. Larson's interpretation of Deborah sinking from hopeful housewife to evil spirit is quite shocking, believable, and amazing. The rest of the cast was pretty excellent too, with other impressive performances by Anne Ramsey as Sarah, Michelle Ang as Mia, and Ryan Cutrona as Harris. Everyone else played off the drama and trauma created by Deborah in the film quite well.
EFFECTS: The visual effects in this film weren't the most realistic or well-polished, but they were definitely creepy and interesting. The several freaky incarnations of Deborah are quite frightening to look at though obviously fake. What wasn't too obviously fake, however, was the cringe-inducing simulation of the medical procedures Deborah had to go through. Those could make anyone feel uncomfortable because it feels so real and that's rather unsettling. The effects did fail in certain parts, but for the most part they inspired some pretty freaky and occasionally cringe-inducing effects.
OTHER CONTENT: The Taking of Deborah Logan is probably one of the most underrated horror films of its time. Though there are a lot of flaws, it still manages to excite and creep out the audience. The filmmakers used the proper techniques to distribute the scares among the steady-building suspense the film contains throughout. It builds up suspense and then delivers satisfaction to the audience through small scares until the pot finally boils over near the end. The film is in no way unique, but it knows how to put plot and horror elements to proper use. Most of its scares and situations seem derivative of other works (The Exorcist, Grave Encounters, The Last Exorcism), but they all seem to fall together just right when combined. However, that does also create a few plot twists that don't add up. They twists start to get so preposterous that they run together and begin to make less sense. The filmmakers borrowed the situations well, but didn't tie up all of the loose ends or account for the baggage left by borrowing these situations. The script is also pretty bland and poorly written at parts near the end of the film, but for the most part, everything's rock solid. The film does have a lot of flaws, but it takes what it finds and puts them together in such a way to make exciting entertainment.
The Taking of Deborah Logan deserves a lot more credit than its gotten thus far. Though it's very derivative and preposterous at times, the film takes the elements its given and puts them together quite nicely, exhibiting a very talented cast and building suspense and excitement up to the frightening end. This film provides some truly creepy imagery and succeeds in grabbing its audience and holding their attention tight as a rope in tug-of-war. Sometimes one just has to give a film a chance and consider what its up against, which is what made this film such a pleasant find in terms of horror.