Wednesday, 14 April 2021

Prime Time: The Taking Of Deborah Logan (2014)

Please note, for some reason, this is often now listed under the title "The Taking".

I have joked for many years that when I forget something, or lose something, I am having “a senior moment”. I am sure I am not alone in using this phrase in a light-hearted way. But the reality is that, as is the case for so many others, the thought of any illness that would affect me in that way is terrifying. You lose yourself, you cannot be sure of what is real in your life, and you rely on everyone else to keep you attached to whoever you once were.

The Taking Of Deborah Logan is a found footage film that uses the idea of dementia and illness being equatable to possession, and it’s not much of a stretch. I am sure that many people who have watched loved ones suffer from such brain-warping illnesses could tell you how strange it is to see someone turn into someone completely different.

Jill Larson plays Deborah Logan, and Anne Ramsay is her daughter, Sarah. Deborah is getting worse and worse, in terms of her health, and an arrangement has been struck with a crew wanting to document some of her journey. It doesn’t take long to see that there may be more to Deborah’s illness than the usual medical issues.

Director Adam Robitel, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Gavin Heffernan, is capable enough when it comes to dealing with thrills and chills. He may not be any kind of master of horror, but he knows how to create some enjoyable creepiness and impressive jump scares. The first half of the film is a bit stronger, when considering the boundaries blurred between what can be diagnosed and what seems to be supernatural, but the second half brings together the main plot strands and delivers a few great shocks (including one haunting image that you may have seen in gif form on the internet, whether you have seen the film or not).

The cast all convince in their roles, but most scenes are carried by Ramsay and Larson, with Ramsay easily conveying the pain and confusion of a loving grown-up child unable to find ways to help a parent, and the latter perfectly pitching her performance as she weaves between extremely vulnerable and extremely menacing.

Navigating the tone well, The Taking Of Deborah Logan only really stumbles when it feels the need to make one story strand completely overt. Some ambiguity and uncertainty would have made this a modern classic, but it holds up as a strong modern horror, and certainly one of the better found footage movies from the past decade.


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