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John’s Horror Corner: The Taking of Deborah Logan (2014), a creepy horror mystery about Alzheimer’s disease and nosy academic researchers

January 8, 2015

The Taking of Deborah Logan

MY CALL:  This film came out of nowhere and blew away viewer expectations by bringing us smart characters, a creepiness that developed with the story, and a not-so color by numbers plot.  Very good horror film.  MOVIES LIKE The Taking of Deborah Logan:  Try Oculus (2014) and The Babadook (2014) if you’re looking for recent releases that break the mold.

The Taking of Deborah Logan tells a story that we haven’t already heard a dozen times and it tells the story well.  Deborah (Jill Larson; Shutter Island) is a charming early stage Alzheimer’s disease patient living with her anxious caregiving daughter (Anne Ramsay; Planet of the Apes, Critters 4).  In exchange for much needed financial compensation, they agree to let PhD student Mia (Michelle Ang; Underemployed) and her audio-visual team stay with them, record them, and study the effects Alzheimer’s disease has on the unafflicted surrounding family members.

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Isn’t Mia a cute, spunky little grad student?

logan3Something that I always must point out is when a horror movie does a good job of getting to know its characters and getting us to like them and invest in their well-being.  From the very start, I wanted to learn more about Deborah, her daughter, and the academic team studying them.  First-time feature-length director Adam Robitel did such a GREAT job, in fact, that it didn’t feel like a horror movie at all at first…and I didn’t care.  If this movie turned out to be a family drama I still would have wanted to see these characters develop.  What’s more is that the story in no way relied on the characters’ stupid decisions to move forward.  The story unfolded as the characters, in fact, made wise or at least credible decisions in an incredible situation.  Amazing job–and a great storytelling victory for the horror genre to close out 2014.

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Mia’s team watches as Deborah’s episodes and symptoms worsen at an accelerating rate and, with these episodes’ intensity, we also see a greater and more frequent danger to Mia’s team.  The characters great freaked out for good reasons, and things just keep getting creepier and weirder as we begin to learn more about what is causing Deborah’s disease to become so aggressive and more about her mysterious history with her close friend living next door.  The story finds good synthesis, great creepiness, and appropriately effective gore and shock value without trying to compete with overblown shock cinema.

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This film was rich with scares and all of them for legitimate reasons….no loud noises and camera angles to spur needless jumps.  The scares had effective, creepy build-up and even when you saw them coming they were still shocking.  What’s more is that the shocks and their creepy build-ups both appropriately amplify as the movie shifts from its subtle beginnings to its moderately intense end.

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Yeah…it gets pretty weird.

You may have noticed that I have gone out of my way to reveal EXTREMELY little about this film (other than the photos in this review).  Why?  Well, it’s one of the best horror films of 2014 and it deserves to not be spoiled….and YOU deserve to be surprised.  Just know this—it’s NOT a found footage film although there is a good deal of documentary style filming/camera-work, it is supernatural in nature, and it’s something of a horror mystery.

See this movie.  Right now it’s on Netflix.

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21 Comments leave one →
  1. January 8, 2015 8:21 am

    I will agree with you that this is better then most other horror films because it give you time to understand and like the character, but you spoiled one of the best surprises when you posted the pic of the girl being swallowed alive.

    • johnleavengood permalink
      January 8, 2015 11:33 am

      There I must admit I was catering to people doing image searches. LOL. It’s a provocative image. However, seeing it now or not, viewers will remain shocked when it happens. It’s too freaky and the scene’s build-up is staged very well.

  2. Steven Dunne permalink
    January 8, 2015 9:36 am

    Just came across your work by accident as was bored and looking through old Resident evil movie pics. Have now Favorited your site to read later on. Loved this film, was such a surprise as was expecting a low budget borefest. One of my fave Horrors of last year. As a movie and horror nut I look forward to reading your other articles.

    • johnleavengood permalink
      January 8, 2015 11:34 am

      Well we (Mark and I) look forward to your comments! And yes, this film was the pleasant surprise that no one saw coming. I even kept delaying seeing it until it was on EVERYONE’s best horror of 2014 lists/posts/articles.

  3. January 8, 2015 12:39 pm

    To say you have piqued my interest would be a severe understatement. Awesome review!

    • John Leavengood permalink
      March 31, 2015 10:09 am

      Please post a link to your review of this as a comment.

  4. Victor De Leon permalink
    January 8, 2015 1:02 pm

    Stoked for this one, John. I will get back to you on this flick after I watch it. I’ve moved it up all the way since I am in desperate need of a good horror fix. Thanks for the head’s up, man!

    • John Leavengood permalink
      March 31, 2015 10:09 am

      Please post a link to your review of this as a comment.

      • Victor De Leon permalink
        March 31, 2015 10:37 am

        Will do! I finished it a while back but never started a draft. May have to give it a rewatch.

  5. January 10, 2015 11:31 am

    Got this on my to watch list. Good review 😀

    • John Leavengood permalink
      March 31, 2015 10:09 am

      Many thanks. As much a pleasure to write about, as to watch.

  6. David permalink
    January 29, 2015 9:45 am

    It was like an accident on the highway after dark. You slow down and rubberneck to see the carnage that you know you will find. The black marks on the jersey barriers left by the vehicles as they careened. The figures of the rescuers caught in the strobe light of the emergency vehicles. You knew that watching this movie with its slow buildup was like the traffic inching its way past the accident site.
    I loved the rationalizations that supposedly learned people make to explain the supernatural. That was well written and depicts true human behavior. Kudos to the grunt crewmember who bugs out after his minivan is perforated by shotgun blasts. He was obviously more in touch with his Fox Mulder side. Sarah, the daughter, is the only other one that gets that this is not a clinical disease. She is forced to ride this one all the way to the ground when the reserve chute finally opens and the body ignites. And the ending after all the creepiness was sublime…..Sequel anyone? Best guess is that anyone watching this will not be shopping online for a pet snake.

    • johnleavengood permalink
      January 29, 2015 12:12 pm

      Love your prosaic analogies, David. I can’t wait to see what this director does next. Although, I’m not hoping for a sequel.

Trackbacks

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  3. The MFF Podcast #6: The Best Moments in Horror since 2000 | Movies, Films & Flix
  4. That Awkward Moment in Horror, Part 2: The Taking of Deborah Logan and the “egg-swallowing snake demon” possession phenomenon | Movies, Films & Flix
  5. Examining the State of Horror Cinema in 2015: A Look at the Current Trends, Auteurs and Squishy Noises | Movies, Films & Flix
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  7. 15 Images for 15 Years of Horror, Part 2 (2001-2015): some of the greatest, goriest, most shocking and most memorably defining moments in horror since 2001 | Movies, Films & Flix

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