A masterful mockumentary that will keep you on the edge of your seat, “The Taking of Deborah Logan” is creative, intense, and terrifying.
Students Mia (Michelle Ang), Gavin (Brett Gentile), and Luis (Jeremy DeCarlos) head to the home of Deborah Logan (Jill Larson), an elderly woman with Alzheimer’s disease who lives with her daughter, Sarah (Anne Ramsay). Things start slowly, with some interviews and some background information about the characters. However, the film kicks up when Deborah has an episode one night, threatening one of the crew with a knife. She engages in self-harm, and an ambulance has to be called.
At first, of course, this episode is attributed to Deborah’s progressing disease. However, her episodes begin to grow increasingly bizarre and extreme to the point where a crew member leaves.
The Taking of Deborah Logan is another of Tubi’s hidden gems. Directed by Adam Robitel, who co-wrote the screenplay with Gavin Heffernan, the film is gripping, creepy, and genuinely frightening.
Deborah and Sarah’s story gradually unravels to reveal a dysfunctional family with more than one skeleton in the closet. Widowed young, Deborah supported Sarah by opening up an answering service. She described many of her clients as shady characters. As the film progresses, the events in the story point to Deborah’s behavior having a more sinister and unworldly origin.
The film moves at a good pace overall, with Robitel’s story unraveling layer by layer, pointing the reviewer in many directions.
The main character having Alzheimer’s Disease, which can cause hallucinations, is what creates the question regarding her behavior.
Even as her behavior becomes increasingly bizarre, she wanders around the house in a trance and begins speaking French. Deborah’s ramblings are translated to refer to serpents and sacrifices. Is Deborah remembering something she witnessed? Is this trauma? Or is it something supernatural?
Robitel and Heffernan’s conclusion doesn’t disappoint. The twist is unpredictable but doesn’t come out of nowhere.
The characters are fleshed out well enough to create sympathy for both Deborah and Sarah. Every time Deborah self-harms and is hospitalized, I felt I was right there with Sarah. Sarah is a sympathetic character struggling with her own issues. She’s witnessing her mother’s deterioration while still haunted by trauma from their past relationship.
The performances in this film are riveting, especially Larson and Ramsay.
Larson’s range shows as she goes from a kindly elderly woman to creepy, disturbed, and demonic. Ramsay is convincing as a frustrated daughter dealing with past trauma as well as present. As much as she and her mother didn’t get along, watching her mother psychologically unravel before her eyes is disturbing.
Robitel’s direction captures authenticity, presenting a convincing mockumentary.
The settings are realistic, but what happens within them is surreal.
The special effects and makeup are realistic enough to cause a cringe of sympathy and pain for the characters. Shaky camera shots and shots from afar where the filmmakers are spying to try to figure out what’s going on, complete with subtitles to fill in inaudible dialogue, help create the illusion that we’re watching true events take place.
The Taking of Deborah Logan is a powerful, gripping tale of a woman unraveling due to forces beyond her control. The story is original, the performances are strong, and the pacing is perfect.
If you love found footage films and psychological horror with a supernatural twist, I highly recommend giving The Taking of Deborah Logan a watch.