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The Taking of Deborah Logan (2014)
DVD Released: 11/4/2014
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 10/13/2014
Many horror films feature things which won't die. This has become a staple of the medium as we are overrun with vampire and zombie movies. There are also some types of horror movies which won't seem to die, specifically found-footage movies. By this point, I think that many would have assumed that this fad would have burned itself out, but it's still going strong. We may not have many of these movies hitting the cinemas, but they have become a staple on home video. The issue here is that we see little diversity in this sub-genre. Many still seem to think is that all one needs to do is pick up a camera and run around with it. While the technical aspects of found-footage is somewhat limited, a movie with a clever idea could go a long way -- One such as The Taking of Deborah Logan.
The Taking of Deborah Logan introduces us to Mia (Michelle Ang), a student who is doing her thesis on Alzeheimer's Disease and its effect on the family and caregivers. She has decided to document this by capturing the lives of Alzheimer's patient Deborah Logan (Jill Larson) and her daughter, Sarah (Anne Ramsay), with the help of a documentary film crew -- Gavin (Brett Gentile) and Luis (Jeremy DeCarlos). Mia is paying the family for their participation in the film, as they need the money to keep their house. So, Mia, Gavin, and Luis move in with Deborah and Sarah and begin to document Sarah's behavior and conduct interviews with her. Sometimes she is very lucid and engaging. At other times, she is distant and forgetful. She also has violent outbursts, which appear to be a part of her diagnosis. However, when Deborah begins to exhibit behaviors which can't be explained, it becomes apparent that something worse than Alzheimer's is affecting her.
OK, first of all, kudos to Co-Writer/Director Adam Robitel and Co-Writer Gavin Heffernan for coming up with an ingenious idea. The Taking of Deborah Logan could have easily been about a woman who was dealing with dark forces. It probably would have wound up looking a lot like the recentThe Possession of Michael King. Instead, they take a much different approach. Here, we have a woman whose unusual behavior is sad, unnerving, and, at times, dangerous, but everyone assumes that it's due to the Alzheimer's, so they give her a free pass. As the story unfolds and Mia and her crew learn more about Deborah's past, we begin to realize that something sinister is attempting to take control of Deborah. This very simple idea earns the movie a ton of credit and adds a deeper level of mystery to the proceedings -- Is she merely ill or is something evil happening here.
Now, we've talked many times in the past about movies which have good ideas and then have no idea what to do with them. That is not the case with The Taking of Deborah Logan. Some movies would have patted themselves on the back for having a novel jumping-off point and left it at that. Instead, this film just keeps taking things further and further, and in different ways. First of all, Deborah's behavior, which seems easily explained at first, gets more and more bizarre. Secondly, the clues to Deborah's past, and how they tie into a series of events from the community come into focus. Finally, the movie seems to be dropping hints about what is happening to Deborah, and the reality of this becomes shockingly revealed in the finale in a move which really took my by surprise.
The Taking of Deborah Logan is one of those found footage films which probably could have worked as a traditional narrative film, but the home-made angle helps to justify why Mia and her guys intrude on Deborah's life. Whatever the case, this is one of the best examples of the sub-genre which I've seen in quite some time. I wouldn't put it up there withRec or Cloverfield, but for a low-budget movie which seemingly came out of nowhere, it is very effective. Again, the movie has a fantastic premise, the pacing is very good, and, for once, the payoff at the end is satisfying. (This must be a good movie, as my wife and I watched the film in its entirety with no breaks in one sitting, which never happens.) I look forward to seeing what Robitel and Heffernan come up with next. In the end, The Taking of Deborah Logan receives one of the best recommendations which I can give a movie -- I wish that I had it on Blu-ray Disc.
The Taking of Deborah Logan should have given Deborah bangs on DVD courtesy of Millennium Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is sharp and clear, showing no overt grain or defects from the source materials, save for those which were intentionally inserted by the filmmakers. The colors look very good and natural. The image is somewhat dark at times, but, again, this appears to have been done on purpose to obscure our view of certain events. The image shows a fair amount of depth in certain shots and it’s never too soft. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The mix here is very nicely done, as it highlights sounds coming from off-screen in the front and rear channels. These sounds, most notably the ones from the rear, are often very distinct. The subwoofer effects are effective as well, adding punctuation to the “shock” scenes.
The lone extra on The Taking of Deborah Logan DVD is a "'Making Of' Featurette" which runs about 4 minutes. This offers clips from the film and comments from the cast and Director Adam Robitel, who discuss the themes of the movie and Larson's performance. We also get a smidgen of on-set footage.
Review Copyright 2014 by Mike Long