Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Taking of Deborah Logan (2014)

Well, it's the first review of a new year! Time to do another bland possession exorcism movie again!

Director: Adam Robitel
Starring: Jill Larson, Anne Ramsay

Co-written with Michelle.

You know, I genuinely feel sorry for the people making these piece of shit movies in a way. Well, not too much. But I know that, deep down somewhere, there was some kind of glimmer of artistic intention in a movie like this. Some poor sap going 'hey, I have a really original and good idea for a horror movie. I'll do it found-footage style, so it feels like you're right there in the action. Nobody has done that before. Then I'll carefully craft a story about a possession, but I'll tie in a story about a disease like Alzheimer's to make it more grounded in reality! Yeah!'

How depressingly optimistic. I almost don't even want to be mean to it...oh who am I kidding, yes I do.

We start this off with some lame text on a black screen announcing that the movie we're about to see is composed of outtakes, security camera footage and all kinds of other bullshit that has the unique distinction of being everything but a fucking movie. Seriously, who gives a shit? Show us a goddamn movie.

We get a sort of half-told story, paradoxically forced and hamstrung to felt realistic through “whispered” lines “secretly” filmed. It kind of, sort of establishes that this woman needs money to help her Alzheimer's-ailing mother, Deborah Logan, so she lets some film crew make a documentary about Alzheimer's featuring her mother.

I don't know why the film crew is doing this, though; couldn't you just go to a hospital ward and film normal Alzheimer's patients instead of crazy old ladies living out in houses in the woods? Wouldn't that be more economically sound, easier to shoot and just plain better in every way? Oh, I forgot, a house in the woods isolated from society is just more convenient for stock horror storytelling bad.

Anyway, we get some fairly middling scenes of Deb stumbling around and doing Alzheimer-y things that could have been interesting in a movie that cared about depicting the disease accurately. But then you realize you're just watching another dime-a-dozen ghost horror possession movie, and then you go 'oh, right,' and promptly smoke a bowl. My favorite scene is when they actually, no joke, throw in a little 'informative' bit about what Alzheimer's is, complete with totally random CGI graphics.

"This is the part of your brain that dies when watching The Taking of Deborah Logan."

No, your Netflix didn't just glitch up and jettison you over to a kids' science class instructional video – you just saw that.

So to demonstrate exactly their knowledge of how Alzheimer's works, the movie then shows us the true meaning of the disease – when you have it, you sometimes stand in dark rooms and stare ominously at nothing, like you're in a shitty horror movie:

I guess every character in one of these kinds of movies has Alzheimer's then!

And when that doesn't sound appealing, well, there's always the old 'tear off your own neck skin' trick. A classic Alzheimer's staple.

Man, I'm going to hell for this review.

After she gets released from the hospital, I'll be fair and admit that even the movie starts to admit that Deb's condition isn't actually Alzheimer's. Really? What tipped you off about that? Was it the scene where they find her naked in the attic intoning in French about snakes and burying people in the river and all kinds of other nonsense? I guess that one was a close call. I mean, it's easy to see how you'd fucking mistake that shit for Alzheimer's. I guess you needed to consult with all the top doctors and get second opinions.

One of those priceless family moments...

And because the writers of this thing apparently grew up in a vacuum and were never aware that this is a trope in horror movies older than time itself, we get a bunch of scenes after this where they go online and research why she was saying all that shit. Nothing that can't be solved by showing characters clicking around on a computer, right? Because they couldn't figure out a clever way to shoehorn the plot in without a big stinky info-dump...that's exactly what we get next. A big stinky info-dump, clogging up the movie and stopping everything in its tracks.

"Just photoshop whatever you need to on that computer screen, it's easier than writing compelling scenes!"

So, if you care, the story is that there's some serial killer from the past who used to take kids and drown them, or something like that. He mysteriously disappeared years ago, and now apparently is possessing Deb and making her do all this crazy stuff, as she spoke to him once before years ago at her job as a telephone operator. I don't know. It's all pretty obviously made up on the spot, as there was no clues to this storyline before these last few scenes, and we're halfway through the movie.

Really all we need now is the reveal that the demon is actually Toby, the demon from the Paranormal Activity series. Piggybacking off an established franchise would at least bring in some of that money the family needs to pay their bills and stuff. So there would be that advantage!

So with the reveal that this is definitely not Alzheimer's, you'd think the camera crew would move on. After all, their job was to make a movie about Alzheimer's, and clearly what we have here is a demonic possession. So they're done, right? Right?! No...actually they keep on filming shit anyway, just for the hell of it I guess. Or maybe their producers just thought it was a better story than 'hey, let's exploit an old lady with Alzheimer's!' That seems more likely.

"Isn't this a little too personal and sensitive to stand there filming? Doesn't it kind of make us complete assholes?"

So we get an astounding little text blurb under some scenes listing the number of days the project has been going on – first we see 41 days and then over 60 the next time. Jesus, what is their time frame on this? When do they plan on stopping? It seems like they're really just winging it and hanging out to film whatever at this point, as there's no clear narrative being formed and they're really just reacting to things now. They're at the mercy of the elements. There's no story or plan here anymore. Might as well just admit you have no clue what you're doing, guys.

There's a baffling scene where this old guy from next door comes over to their property shooting a gun like a madman. He hits the camera crew's car a few times and is then arrested. It's never exactly explained why he was shooting – maybe he has Alzheimer's too. See? I can be insensitive too.

Then the next day, one of their guys quits because of all the crazy shit going on like the old lady's bizarre possessed actions and the bullets that destroyed his windows last night. I guess we're supposed to feel really bad and scared for the others, but all I feel is relief for the guy who left. I mean, he's clearly the only one with any sense of career goals, anyway.

He's got plenty of other hack found footage horror scenarios do appear in.

I really wanted, later on in the movie, to have a sidebar chronicling his normal and healthy career path juxtaposed with the other main characters' continued descent into idiocy – just to drive the whole ridiculous thing home.

What's going on with the titular character Deborah Logan, you might ask? Ha ha, just kidding; nobody is asking that. But I'll tell you anyway. Apparently after doing silly things like throwing up worms, she was admitted to the hospital.

Not this month's approved dieting fad, but we all need to get worms out of our system at some point.

My favorite scene in this sequence is when one of the doctors offers up the brain-shattering conclusion his years of schooling have brought him to: she threw up the worms because she might have eaten worms when out digging in the garden in her dementia state. Yes. You read that right. Isn't this man the genius we've all been waiting for? I think he is.

Seriously, though, dude – answering complete indescribable insanity like throwing up worms with retarded levels of unrealistic “isn't it so simple?” acceptance probably isn't your best course of action here.

Apparently he isn't the hospital's only problem, though, as we see their security is so lax that even a skinny old woman like Deborah Logan can break out...somehow. It isn't really explained how, and somehow she also even kidnaps some little girl out of a cancer ward. I'm guessing the reason the movie doesn't show us the scenes of them escaping is because even the writers had no idea how it happened.

The story here, supposedly, is that the serial killer possessing Deborah wants to kill cancer girl. Why? Because he's crazy and a serial killer, so no other motivations are needed. He's just kooky.

I guess we then get a long, long, annoyingly, painfully long action sequence where the cops team up with the camera crew and Deborah's daughter to go find the girl. Somewhere in the blitzkrieg of nonsense before this, it was established that the sheriff and the daughter are old friends, so I guess that means it's okay to take her and a random camera crew of people you don't know on a hunt for a kidnapper. Cops of the century, ohhhhhhh yeah!

"You go ahead of me. It's just for safety."

Seriously. This is established police protocol? Just invite the cancer girl's entire 3rd Grade class along too. Why the fuck not? Invite the goddamn Nambian church choir jazz ensemble, too. Maybe throw your AA buddies in, too. Surely someone will be able to find that girl!

Turns out it's the camera crew who ends up finding the girl. Convenience to the point of contrivance? What big words!

But yeah. Just take a look at this:

You can insert your own caption this time. I'm sure you'll come up with brilliant ones.

Because you know, cancer patients make the best food for serial killers. Which is a sentence I never thought I'd say.

They shoot Deborah Logan and save the girl, and it's all a happy ending except for the fact that somehow the serial killer guy body-jumped into the little girl now.

Presumably she is incarcerated for life into a mental asylum when she starts talking about drowning people in the river.

How did he do that? I'm sure there was some unfinished line of dialogue in this half-assed mess of a movie that explained it, but fuck it if I'm going to waste my time with finding it. I'm just going to assume the moral of this movie is that Alzheimer's means demonic possession and cancer patients are good nutrients for serial killers. Happy New Years.

Images copyright of their original owners; I own none of them.