Taking of Deborah Logan

Rating:

Jill Larson Proves Some Soap Stars Can Act

Main cast: Jill Larson and Anne Ramsey

Director: Adam Robitel

Sometimes a film comes out of nowhere and is better than it has any right to be. The Taking of Deborah Logan is one of those.

Written and directed by Adam Robitel (writer of Paranormal Activity: the Ghost Dimension) the little found footage movie that could is set up as a documentary by Mia, Gavin and Luis who are making a movie about the effects of Alzheimer’s on, not just the person with the disease, but those surrounding the person as well. They’ve chosen Deborah Logan (Jill Larson, “All My Children”) and her daughter Sarah (Anne Ramsey, “Mad About You”) as their subjects. Deborah is reluctant at first, but Sarah, who knows they need the money from the grant provided for making the movie in order to save their house, convinces her to go ahead.

With Mia as the interviewer/director, Gavin on sound and Luis operating the camera, the three students start making their movie. They interview Deborah and Sarah, and stuff their documentary full of more medical information than you’d know what to do with, but pretty soon Deborah’s behavior becomes erratic in a way that’s not common among Alzheimer’s sufferers. The things they keep catching on camera–like Deborah’s apparent levitation onto a kitchen counter, and the nailed-shut window that opens itself–can’t be explained away by science or medicine, and it’s sure as hell not the result of any disease.

A mystery surrounding the disappearance long ago of a local child murderer suddenly begins to unfold and Deborah, Sarah, and the crew find themselves stuck in the middle of it.

The Taking of Deborah Logan rests almost entirely on the shoulders of Deborah herself, played to the hilt by Jill Larson, whose years on “All My Children” apparently made her fearless. I used to watch that during the summers with my mother, and Opal was always one of the more flamboyant and in your face characters. It’s nice to see Larson hasn’t lost any of that edge or daring in the years since then. In fact, it’s Larson’s portrayal that makes this movie what it is.

She’s seriously committed to the role and Deborah’s sudden changes in mood, plus her eventual downward spiral into the abyss are expertly handled by Larson.

Anne Ramsey as Sarah and Michelle Ang as Mia hold their own and play off Deborah’s madness pretty well, but their performances would count for nothing without the springboard Larson provides.

Robitel and co-writer Gavin Heffernen have created a wonderful mystery and kept their secrets well, spoonfeeding the viewer bits and pieces at just the right times while also providing a good dose of misdirection to keep us guessing the entire plot too soon, and it’s only in the end that we realize all the pieces of the puzzle were there all along. But we were too busy enjoying the atmosphere Robitel has created, marveling at how creepy Larson manages to be and trying to convince ourselves this is more than just a haunted house story (it is, WAY more, but there are so many moments when “haunted house” seems to be the direction we’re heading), that we keep letting our guard down again and again and just letting the film take us on this wonderful ride.

Is it the BEST found footage horror movie I’ve ever seen? No, not at all. But it’s so well-done, SO creepy, and has such an original take on the subject matter, plus the production is so top-notch, that whatever flaws may exist get lost in the shuffle and what remains is one powerful and entertaining movie that just refuses to let up even for an instant.

I love a movie that comes out of nowhere and just plows through any barriers my preconceived notions may have erected, and The Taking of Deborah Logan is just such a movie. Knowing it was a found footage horror movie when I started it, I was expecting so little from it, and it delivered so well and so far beyond my expectations, I can say nothing but good things about it in return.

If you’re looking for a really good horror movie, and you’re one of those few who actually LIKE found footage–like me–definitely see this movie. Highly recommended.

–C. Dennis Moore

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