Last Saturday night, I spent over 160 minutes watching short horror films at Bleedingham V. Many of the films (my film included) were found footage/mockumentaries. If this taught me anything, it’s how many different ways a filmmaker can approach any given style. I enjoyed these films for their willingness to go against convention. The Taking of Deborah Logan is the exact opposite.
The Taking of Deborah Logan is the most predictable, most uninventive found footage/mockumentary I have watched all Shocktober. Never does the film do anything daring or original. Which is a shame considering the core idea has so much potential. It’s the kind of potential that makes you wonder “Should this have even been found footage?” To which I’m not sure. At least then maybe it wouldn’t have so many cheap jump scares.
The plot starts off simple enough. Mia (Michelle Ang), is the leader of a three-person documentary team making a film about Alzheimers. Traveling to rural Virginia, Michelle makes contact with a financially crippled Sarah Logan (Anne Ramsay) and her sick mother Deborah (Jill Larson) to document Deborah’s Alzheimers. Deborah, once a prominent figure in the town as its first switchboard operator, has found herself constantly confused and irritable. Has the disease taken over? Or is it something else.
Obviously, it’s something else. I don’t feel the need to keep it too much of a secret. It’s a possession. Though I’m not particularly interested in going too much into detail. I will commend the film for going further than your typical, “Help! I’m possessed by the devil!” It’s more creative than that, and I don’t have a problem with that. My problem is how the film is made, paced, and presented.
90% of the scares in this film are a cameraman walking behind Deborah as she stares at a window, only to have her turn around and scream. There was no creative spark to any of the terror in the film. This is a shame considering the skeletal-looking Jill Larson has such an unsettling presence. Her performance is memorable but as she descends further into possession, she feels more like a throwaway prop than a character.
Aside from a scene where Deborah unhinges her jaw and tries to swallow someone like a snake, I felt the film’s scares were wasted opportunities. Alzheimers is a genuinely scary disease but the fact that we so quickly discover something else is wrong with Deborah erases a great deal of tension.
I wonder if this film would have been better had it been entirely set in a hospital or a retirement home. A more claustrophobic environment where we could really hone in on Deborah’s illness. Instead, it’s a mystery film, going all around town, trying to discover what has control of Deborah, it’s too much. Keep it simple. The film goes too far with plotting but not far enough with presentation. The end result is tepid. Again, I like the idea, I like the performances, but that’s it. Take me away from this film.
Gramma take me home…