The Taking of Deborah Logan combines supernatural horror with a found-footage filming style. Hardly an original idea but one that is done very well here, up to a point. It combines old fashioned scares with a story that actually matters.
The plot is straight-forward enough to begin with. A trio of film-makers are creating a documentary about Deborah (Jill Larson), an elderly woman suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Deborah doesn’t initially want to take part but her daughter, Sarah (Anne Ramsey) convinces her. They risk losing their house & the money gained from this documentary will help.
The early stages of the film are surprisingly well done as we get to know more about Deborah & Sarah. We also see how the early stages of Alzheimer’s is already affecting day to day life for the pair. Forget anything supernatural, this alone is horrific to watch. Deborah struggling to remember important events in her own life is painful.
The found-footage style is barely noticeable thanks to the documentary style of filming. It eliminates most of the problems that are often associated with it such as severe shaky camera work. Don’t get me wrong, those problems will rise up later in the movie but for the first half it’s not an issue.
Deborah’s Alzheimer’s is an aggressive disease. As the weeks pass we see her behaviour becomes more & more erratic & bizarre. These early moments in the movie are intensely creepy & uncomfortable to watch. At this stage, there is no indication that anything paranormal is happening. We’re just seeing a bright & vibrant woman losing herself to a devastating disease.
However more & more strange events begin to happen & Deborah is captured on film doing stuff that defy conventional logic. Events such as standing in the kitchen then on the worktop without a time-frame jump. Digging wildly in the garden. Drawing pictures that show a black figure getting closer to the house & in the standout scene…speaking French while going wild at her old switchboard.
It freaks out the main cameraman of the crew enough that he decides to quit outright. Something more than Alzheimer’s is happening to Deborah Logan, something she buried a long time ago.
These events are very well handled, creepy but not over the top. A lot of this is thanks to Jill Larson’s excellent portrayal of Deborah. Her ability to just stand & stare blankly is one of the most uncomfortable things to watch throughout. She is terrifying but a very sympathetic character too.
The first 60 minutes of this 90 minute movie is excellent stuff. Unfortunately it loses its way with a very contrived extension to the story that ends up over-complicating matters. During the final third it resorts to tired & predictable clichés resulting in a disappointing finale. Except for one particular scene, it won’t be spoilt here for you because it has to be seen to be believed.
A massive increase in the body count & characters behaving like sudden idiots. It’s really disappointing considering how far it tried to keep things weighted in reality. To top it off the final scene is gobsmacking in just how unnecessary it is. It actually takes some of the shine off the overall movie.
Still, it’s nice to be surprised. A supernatural found-footage horror that is very entertaining & actually manages to be creepy? Well worth a watch even if you’re a long-term jaded horror fan like myself.
The Taking of Deborah Logan