THE TAKING OF DEBORAH LOGAN (2014)
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This creepy found footage horror starts out with an interesting story that supports the constant filming. Student Mia (Michelle Ang) is doing a thesis film on the effects of Alzheimer’s and is going to use an older woman named Deborah Logan (Jill Larson), who has been diagnosed with the early stages of the disease, as her subject. Debbie and her daughter Sarah (Anne Ramsey) have agreed to this thanks to grant money from the school and let Mia and her two man crew into their spacious old home to film their lives. They set cameras up all over the house to document the sad effects of this ailment on Deborah’s life, as the disease progresses. As Mia and crew continue to document, though, Deborah starts to exhibit some very alarming behavior and soon it begins to appear as if there is something else taking control of the woman…something dark, malevolent and with very ill-intentions.
This is one horror flick that will make your skin crawl! Directed by Adam Robitel, from his script with Gavin Heffernan, this is not only a really effective use of found footage, but a film that can push your buttons to unsettling degrees. The sad effects of Deborah’s Alzheimer’s is heartbreaking enough to give you chills, in the early scenes, but when she starts exhibiting more bizarre and violent behavior, the goose-bumps start to appear quickly and frequently. Robitel simply gets maximum effect out of the woman’s behavior and aided by a knock-out performance by Jill Larson, this movie is downright disturbing and on a consistent basis. The film only looses it’s grip somewhat in the last act when the action is taken out of the Larson home and into a hospital and then a wooded area. At that point it gets a bit more theatrical and wasn’t as intimately spooky, but there is still enough to chill such as Deborah kidnapping a young children’s cancer patient for some nefarious purpose. Involving a child who is already a victim of a horrid disease is just downright disturbing…but never crosses the line into exploitation. Robitel really knows how to set up some unsettling scenes, both subtly and more dramatically and does so often. There is some effective blood and gore as well and some imagery that will stick with you long after the film is over. A very impressive debut from Adam Robitel and one of the most effective found footage horrors in quite some time.
As for the cast, lead Jill Larson, as said, really makes this work with an absolutely strong…and really disturbing performance, as Deborah. She portrays, at first, a sweet older woman, who is sadly coming under the effects of Alzheimer’s and she conveys this in a way that immediately evokes our sympathy. It’s just heartbreaking to watch the look on her face after she’s done something odd and she realizes it. When her behavior starts to get more and more malevolent and bizarre, the body language and hateful glares this woman uses to convey her possessed state is truly bone-chilling work. A wonderful performance. Anne Ramsey is also good as daughter Sarah, but, she is a familiar face and thus weakens the overall illusion that this is real footage of real people. Cute Michelle Ang is fine as Mia, giving us that ambitious student out to make an impression, but she also seems to legitimately care about Deborah and gets emotionally involved when things get spooky. Brent Gentile is one of her crew, Gavin. The character is a bit whiny, but in this case, I’m not sure I blame him and Gentile is perfectly suitable. Rounding out, we have Jeremy DeCarlos as cameraman Luis, who is hardly ever seen, Ryan Cutrona as Deborah’s loyal, caring and yet somewhat mysterious neighbor and Anne Bedian as Deborah’s doctor, Dr. Nazir. All support the leads adequately with Cutrona standing out a bit in the secondary cast.
In short, this is one creepy as hell flick! First-time director Adam Robitel really knows how to create some very disturbing imagery and scenes that will chill you to the bone. He’s not afraid to “go there” and use sensitive subjects in his horror story, yet never exploits them; they are part of the story and effectively used. It’s one of the best found footage films in sometime and Robitel proves he’s a director/writer to watch. View this film with the lights out and prepare to be chilled!
3 and 1/2 garden spades!