As this is my first “official” horror film review for Nerdist.com, I’ll let you in on a little secret right now. Ready? It’s sort of embarrassing.
I like “found footage” horror flicks.
No, not all of them. Dear lord. Some of the worst indie horror films of the past five years have belonged to the “found footage / faux doco” classification. But when done well, with a certain degree of creativity and professionalism, I’m more than happy to jump into a “first person” perspective and play along with the filmmakers.
Some of this year’s better found footage indies include The Sacrament, The Den, Inner Demons, Mockingbird, The Possession of Michael King, and The Houses October Built, and while it probably won’t win convince many of the “haters” to embrace found footage, the new occult thriller known as The Taking of Deborah Logan probably deserves a spot on that list. Open-minded horror nuts who still have patience for possession thrillers and/or found footage will be its most ardent supporters, but there’s always something to be said for a slightly new spin on an oft-told tale; The Taking may not re-invent the wheel with its no-frills visual presentation (handheld cameras, security footage, archival exposition, etc.) but to its credit, the film does tackle demonic possession in a relatively novel fashion.
More specifically: most horror flicks about possession have a vulnerable young woman as its victim, but with The Taking, screenwriters Adam Robitel and Gavin Heffernan have focused on a tough old lady. As played (rather excellently) by veteran TV actor Jill Larson, Deborah Logan is a nice old woman who is suffering from early but aggressive stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Where classics like The Exorcist use the victim’s youth as a source for all sorts of disturbing themes, and this year’s Inner Demons uses possession as a metaphor for drug addiction, this film wants to tap into our fears of aging and of losing our own identities as time marches on. So while The Taking of Deborah Logan certainly has some enjoyably creepy stuff and a handful of traditionally simple jump scares, it holds a bit more weight thanks to the dark yet respectful approach to those who suffer from Alzheimer’s and schizophrenia.
The plot is as you’d expect: a tenacious (sometimes even pushy) group of documentary filmmakers find their interviews with Ms. Logan and her daughter Sarah — the also excellent Anne Ramsay (Dexter) — side-tracked by a series of increasingly disturbing events. At first it seems like Deborah is simply a time-bomb waiting to go off with an explosion of violence, but once the filmmakers start poking around and discovering all sorts of creepy old secrets, well, it is an “occult” thriller. To say much more would ruin the fun, and despite a slightly shaky start, The Taking of Deborah Logan is actually a solid little horror flick that gets a lot more interesting the longer you give it.
Also it’s got big-time nerd-friendly filmmaker Bryan Singer (of The Usual Suspects, Superman Returns, and numerous X-Men adventures) on board as an executive producer, which certainly doesn’t guarantee you’ll like the film, but still seems interesting enough to mention.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 burritos
The Taking of Deborah Logan is now available on various VOD platforms.