Monday, December 1, 2014

FILM REVIEW: The Taking of Deborah Logan (2014)


Soooo...I made the mistake of watching The Taking of Deborah Logan  by myself at like 1 in the morning one dark night recently thinking it wouldn't phase me. Needless to say...I watched a bunch of funny cat videos on YouTube immediately after the credits rolled. Fucking creepy film, man.

The Taking of Deborah Logan  is the feature debut of writer/director Adam Robitel and it is an amazing one, at that. Normally, I don't really go out of my way for found footage stuff but Robitel really does some masterful work here with pacing and tension. And, for what it's worth, Andrew Huebscher's cinematography is top notch for a sub-genre that is usually relegated to hand held shaky cams. I understand that Bryan Singer had a hand in shepherding this project...which could mean that he might've pumped some serious money into it and maybe influenced a few technical decisions here and there. But, I feel that to be a cool little bonus as I still remember Apt Pupil  to be an overall good, tension-filled ride. A great effort by all involved.

Speaking of great efforts, Jill Larson (usually a staple on daytime soaps) owns the fuck out of this film. She plays the titular Deborah Logan, who is struggling with a form of Alzheimer's which is also the subject of a trio of medical researchers documenting her entire ordeal in which to learn more about the debilitating disease...hence the found footage stuff. God...just watching her spiraling transformation, alone, is enough to make the viewer uncomfortable...never mind all the demonic stuff. And that's really the twist to this film...the fact that it entwines deteriorating mortality with supernatural evil in a seamless manner. Plus the fact that Larson is a brilliant actress and she really goes all the way in the role really makes it all the more special.


The other stand-out performance belongs to Anne Ramsey who plays Deborah's daughter, Sarah. She's great in the role and plays quite the firecracker full of all kinds of piss and vinegar. Sarah's a quirky character and Ramsey really seems to have fun in the role and you can genuinely feel it.

The rest of the cast rounds out nicely for who they are and, if I can be completely Deviant for a moment, Michelle Ang as documentary host Mia...is really nice to look at. Like...reaaally nice to look at. I suppose that gave me a cinematic piece of comfort to hold onto as the horror ultimately unraveled. And when things take a turn for the more bleak in the film Mia and Sarah's developing relationship really shines through.

The genre stuff is handled quite expertly. Dealing with the human aspects in a story like this while introducing the horror elements can be quite the tricky balancing act...but, Robitel really excels at delivering everything quite well. His storytelling feels surprisingly organic and precise...especially for a man who is helming his first feature. And while we are on the subject of genre stuff, once we start witnessing the possession of Deborah Logan...it all gets really harrowing and terrifying because we've invested so much emotion with her character. True character development at work.


Perhaps the only real flaw that I could mention is the fact that the film does contain some musical cues and a subtle score even tho we're watching a found footage affair. So, it does feel a little jarring and kinda pulls you out of the story during those crucial organic moments and cheapens the effect of the jump-scare a bit. Grant it...the jump-scares are genuinely warranted. But, I just wish they were working on their own without any kind of musical accompaniment. Still...when the film gets creepy, it all still works really well. The gore and special FX are done nicely, too...especially if the film didn't have a decent budget. Not sure what went into the cost of making it...but, it does feel small. And while the film does manage to squeeze out a nude scene, it certainly isn't sexy in the slightest and falls more under the uncomfortable category of cinema skin.

The Taking of Deborah Logan  is a scary horror film, not because it introduces something new to the genre but, because it reintroduces those familiar elements in unfamiliar new ways as it deals with uncontrollable mortal circumstances, making them even more horrific. It is among the best that you will see all year and, perhaps, the most intriguing demon snake film you might watch in awhile. Big words, I realize...but, it's true.  Jesus...and that ending, pure subtle cold dread. Catch it on Netflix right now.





Like...reeeaaaally nice to look at.




Thanks for reading,

bryan.




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