Let's face it, found footage is exactly what we as horror fans should hate. The Blair Witch Project succeeded in making it popular and now everyone uses that artistic style. What really bothers me is not the style itself, but the reasons for using it. The found footage technique is cheaper than most other camera methods. Many companies are using it as a cheap ploy for making big bucks on a low budget. Furthermore, the horror genre has the best ROI of any other genre. If you want to make a movie cheap, but potentially have serious revenue, then horror films are for you. Unfortunately, that means horror movies are becoming less and less creative from a directorial sense.
The Taking of Deborah Logan falls into the found footage genre and on top of that focuses on demonic possession. Deborah (Jill Larson), an elderly woman with Alzheimer's, is convinced by her daughter Sarah (Anne Ramsay) to allow a documentary crew to film the different stages of her disease. While the initial filming of Deborah goes okay, eventually bizarre and supernatural events occur. It seems that Deborah has some ghosts in her closet (or garden) that are just now beginning to manifest themselves. The viewer witnesses the classic demonic possession signs such as foreign languages, supernatural strength, and levitation.
This movie tries really hard to take a stale technique and make it fresh again. An interesting backstory, above average acting, and genuine scares make it better than a lot of other found footage films (I.E. The Devil Inside). I was impressed with the film's ability to take a very sensitive disease and tip toe the line between appropriate and appalling. The movie makes clear that Deborah is not possessed because of her Alzheimer's, but rather because of something supernatural. Most importantly, this movie has some creepy scenes that are genuinely scary. If you base this film solely on its ability to freak you out, then you would probably give it a pretty decent score.
There are many negatives with this film that unfortunately negates most of the positives. The plot is outlandish and many individuals may feel cheated by the constant twists and turns. The ending will divide people, but it was my belief that it simply tried too hard to be profound. The Taking of Deborah Logan did make the found footage technique bearable, but it also ran it into the ground. While the movie is only 90 minutes, that felt way too long to be stuck behind a hand-held camera.
In the end, I felt torn by this movie. While I was watching an interesting plot with great scares, I was also witnessing yet another generically crafted film. I felt like the director was trying to keep my attention on the shiny plot twists and creepy characters while he pulled yet more money out of my pocket. Sleight of hand tricks may work on some, but any seasoned horror fan can tell that The Taking of Deborah Logan is just another found footage film to throw on the pile. Sometimes being average is worse than at least trying to make more out of yourself, even if it turns out awful.
If you liked The Taking of Deborah Logan, you might also like The Blair Witch Project.