"The Taking of Deborah Logan" is a textbook example of how the found footage formula can wreck havoc on an otherwise solid horror entry.
The film, just released on Netflix streaming, serves up the genre basics with elan – a novel concept, a creepy lead performance and a passel of scares.
And then the camera intrudes on the fun.
That found footage gimmick, this time gussied up as a documentary crew capturing the action, disrupts the narrative until a novel horror film is left nearly in tatters.
The daughter of a woman in the early stages of Alzheimer’s diseases allows a documentary crew to capture her mother’s battle to help with the medical bills.
The filmmakers are initially charmed by Deborah Logan (Jill Larson), an attractive, cheery subject. Soon enough, the signs of Deborah’s mental decline surface. Those symptoms start diverging from what the crew expected from an Alzheimer’s patient, including spasms of violence that put them all in jeopardy.
Is Deborah truly sick, or is something else preying on her?
Found footage movies often lack robust characters, but “Deborah Logan” gives us two personalities that command our attention. Larson delivers a chilling turn as the title character, a cultured woman aghast at what she’s become. Her daughter (Anne Ramsay) is similarly complex, balancing the horror of seeing her mother’s descent with the need to pay those medical bills.
Their familial bond is more than many horror movies deliver in terms of a human component.
Director Adam Robitel conjures up some creepy images early on, making good on the story’s promise. The more Deborah deteriorates, the more Robitel leans on the very worst of the found footage technique. Shot after shot makes no sense from a camera person’s perspective, and that shaky vantage point meant to heighten the tension only serves to annoy.
The film explains the back story behind Deborah’s plight in clunky fashion, but that’s not enough to derail the film. “The Taking of Deborah Logan” allows the camera to become the main attraction, and by the end you can’t help but look away.
WHY NOT TRY … Both “Willow Creek” and “Cloverfield” make better use of the found footage formula.
DID YOU KNOW: A new study shows a drug commonly used in the treatment of diabetes may also be effective in battling Alzheimer’s disease.
HiT Movie Review: ‘The Taking of Deborah Logan’