The Taking of Deborah Logan - Look Kids, It's A Netflix Horror Movie That Isn't Hot Garbage

Taking of Deborah Logan Poster


Most of the time the Netflix Roulette is a lesson in disappointment and futility. Many times I find myself banging my head against the wall wondering aloud if I'm wasting my time searching for a diamond in the rough that doesn't exist. It exists, and it's The Taking of Deborah Logan


The Taking of Deborah Logan

Directed by: Adam Robitel
Starring: Jill Larson, Anne Ramsay
Release Date: October 21, 2014
Run Time: 90 minutes


***

Deborah Logan is an elderly woman in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. The disease is aggressively taking over and her daughter has taken up the role of live-in caretaker. Times are tough and they are in danger of losing the house, so they agree to let a film crew document her struggle with dementia. Deborah's condition worsens as inexplicable phenomena become more and more prevalent. Shit gets bonkers. 

My first impressions when loading the movie were, in this order, "Oh boy. Possession. Found footage. Direct to Netflix." That is the fucking triumvirate of getting 45 minutes into a movie, realizing it's not going to get any better, but being too far in to turn it off because of my innate desire to finish any movie. Twenty minutes in I was impressed that not once had they used night vision, nor had they set the camera down in someone's bedroom and let it run for 45 seconds until a door ~mysteriously slammed shut.~ That alone makes this an A++ found footage movie. It doesn't rely on the same cheap tricks you find in the dregs of Instant Watch. You know exactly what I mean; all of those movies that clog up your recommendations whose names are The Possession of or The _____-ion and are ALWAYS rated 2 stars. 

The biggest compliment I can give this film is that at no point does using Alzheimer's as a critical plot point seem exploitative. Let's put this into context. It's a straight to video horror movie. 9 times out of 10 if you combine that pedigree with a subject as delicate as dementia it would come off as completely tasteless. It would serve as nothing more than a catalyst for unoriginal scares, exploiting it just for a cheap "boo." Everything would be dead silent for a couple of seconds and then there's a loud crash and the camera shakes as we run to the source of the sound and waka waka, crazy ole grandma is in the bathroom for some reason dropping stuff! That old bat is losing it as she gets up in years, I tells ya. We can't take her anywhere. Next thing you know we'll find socks in the fridge and ketchup in her shoes! Oh and also it's secretly the Devil. No, no. Rest assured it's very tastefully done and every aspect of her mental decline is believable - to an unnerving degree. 


Taking of Deborah Logan - Jill Larson Anne Ramsay
Look at that, mom and daughter together again. Look at how happy she looks. Isn't that just grand?


The backbone of Deborah Logan is, well, Deborah Logan herself. The titular character is played by Jill Larson and I'm not exaggerating when I say the entire movie falls squarely on her tiny shoulders. Her daughter (Anne Ramsay) is pretty great in her own regard and the film crew are serviceable for what they're asked to do, but the movie is all about her performance. The Taking of Deborah Logan isn't a clever name, it's a movie about Deb getting taken by something. This movie shines a spotlight on her as she deteriorates physically and mentally and as such its success is reliant solely on her. If at one point her acting isn't believable, all of this goofy shit falls apart. So here we go, movie. You've got a handheld camera, Bryan Singer's money, and a 67 year old actress who's been on over 500 episodes of All My Children. Go make your spooky movie, dick. 

Larson is amazing. She ranges from relatable, to pitiable, to terrifying within the same scene. It's the kind of performance where even if you're a bumbling idiot like me who doesn't know the first thing about acting or film making, you can plainly see she's completely devoting herself to the role and putting everything she has into it. It is an unglamorous portrayal to put it mildly and her performance never wavers for a second. What could be another rote, forgettable found footage movie (pretend I posted a pic of an IMDb page with about 20 movies from the last 2 years) is a standout solely on the shoulders of her performance. Having her as the lead character adds another layer to the movie beyond the perk of having a real actress and not some hot 20 year old who would work for scale. For once, it's not a teenage girl being possessed by something. Debbie Logan isn't a sweet, innocent little girl being taken advantage of by a big spooky demon or monster or Brad Dourif. She's an elderly woman who's mentally deteriorating in front of her daughter's eyes. She's forgetting things. She doesn't remember moments that are crystal clear to others. She's losing a sense of herself, and the more she loses herself the more something else tries to take over. 

Taking of Deborah Logan Grandma
OH GOD WHAT THE FUCK

Even with the heaps of praise I've dumped on this movie, I know the third act is going to lose some people. Everything that has to do with Deborah's battle with Alzheimer's is fantastic, and as she struggles more and more with the disease shit starts to get...weird. There's a progression to the possession, if you will. What begins as heartbreaking things like her attacking the camera crew because she's forgotten them and think's they're robbing her evolve into snakes appearing out of nowhere. I'm going to dance around spoilers a good bit, but if you're opening a horror movie on Netflix that has "The Taking" in the name, you know it's going to end in some supernatural shit. This isn't your first rodeo.

Either you go with it or you don't. Some people don't find possessions scary in any way shape or form and that's fine. I don't personally believe in possession or exorcisms or ghosts, but I am able to use suspension of disbelief because I am a humongous pussy that gets scared by anything and everything. The tonal shift didn’t lose me, but I can see how someone who was deeply engrossed by the Alzheimer’s plotline could throw their hands up and say “fuck this Ouija board bullshit.” Their loss. There's a visual during the climax that caught me completely off guard and has stayed with me. Haunting me.

I'm going to say these vague things about the last act of the movie and I want you to see where your mind goes: It gets weirder and weirder, it's obvious this couldn't be done by a frail old woman, unexplainable stuff caught on tape, convoluted explanation as to what's going on, shit gets even more ridiculous. I imagine a lot of you are nodding along while reading and thinking "yep, of course, I know where exactly where this is going." Look, I said the acting was fantastic, I never said the movie turned the genre on its head.


Taking of Deborah Logan Grandma


Not everyone will follow the film through it's progression into Taking of horror fare, but I did and I loved it. Like I said though, it's not for everyone. If you watch similar movies and ask "why don't they just put the camera down?" then don't watch this and also I hate you. It's 2014, just accept that's how found footage works already. 

The Taking of Deborah Logan is sad, unnerving, suspenseful, what the fuck was that, was that a fucking snake, yo what the FUCK is that, and awwwwww all in 90 minutes. It doesn't re-invent the genre, but who says it has to? It's scary, and that's all that matters. It combines realism with bugnuts crazy rituals and supernatural stuff, which is an awesome combination if you're into that. If you're not, you'll most likely just get frustrated when they start uncovering random creepy shit in her attic (because of COURSE they do). It would be a by the books horror movie that gets lost in the endless depths of Netflix's horror section, but Larson's performance puts it over the top.







***

This movie review written by Big Bob Pataki. Comment below and tell him how wrong he is. No registering necessary (until one of you ruins it for everyone). If you enjoy this feel free to toss a buck my way. Just the tip, to see how it feels.

16 comments:

  1. Thank you! Our kids are having fun and learning new things . This looks like so much fun for them.

    Kids education

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wasn't half bad...until that very last, 'we decided to stuff a tired, routine cliche ending' bit was tacked on...I guessed it as soon as they stated, 'the little girl has made a miraculous recovery...'

    Of COURSE she has.

    Siiiigh.

    Other than that, not bad.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Wasn't half bad...until that very last, 'we decided to stuff a tired, routine cliche ending' bit was tacked on...I guessed it as soon as they stated, 'the little girl has made a miraculous recovery...'

    Of COURSE she has.

    Siiiigh.

    Other than that, not bad.

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