I remember hearing talk about the movie The Taking of Deborah Logan maybe a year or two ago and thinking I should check it out. I don’t know when the title changed or what the story is, but on Netflix it’s simply referred to as “The Taking” and I continuously passed by it when browsing their horror selection thinking “What a generic ass title for a horror movie. Next!” I really don’t know who decided to make the title stand out less, but I’m glad I was able to piece this admittedly very easy to solve puzzle together because this right here, this is a quality flick.
We’re back to the world of found footage movies as a documentary crew sets out to make a movie about the effect of Alzheimer’s disease. Their subject is intended to be Deborah Logan, who is reluctant to do it at first, but is convinced to participate by her daughter Sarah because they need the money in order to keep their home. At first things are normal, but then Deborah starts doing weird stuff like magically teleporting around the kitchen or sitting naked at a piano while she rants about snakes and magic in a language she doesn’t actually know. I’m no doctor, but I would guess these things aren’t typical symptoms of Alzheimer’s.
I was surprised at how quickly things escalate in this movie. A lot of the movies I’ve watched this month have slowly ramped up before it all takes a turn for the worse. Sometimes this panned out very well (The Invitation) and sometimes it really did not (They’re Watching). The Taking doesn’t believe in that path and makes it quite clear early on that something ain’t right with Deborah. Yes ok things don’t completely escalate until later on, but there is no doubt early on that we are dealing with a pretty messed up situation.
A key difference between this and some of the other movies I’ve endured in this month is that the characters here are not just likable, but smart. They don’t spend a whole lot of time trying to rationalize what they are seeing, at least not all of them. One of the crew members even wants to bail and only sticks around because his fee is doubled. I always admire horror movie characters whose primary instinct is “This seems fucked, I’m out!” Although there isn’t much time to establish Deborah as a character before she starts getting all creepy, the time is used effectively and Jill Larson is great in the role, creating a sympathetic character who you always side with, even when she is seemingly maybe turning into a snake creature. Sarah is also a great character, willing to go to hell and back to help her mother no matter how insane the situation gets.
The Taking is less about suspense and tension and more about jump scares and typical “oh god this basement is dark and creepy. I hope nothing pops out and OOOOO NOOOOOO IT DID!” scenes. It’s a fun house ride that doesn’t do a whole lot you haven’t seen before, but it does it well. Once it starts getting into what’s really happening, I found it to be a bit of a bummer because the movie had been so effective up until that point, it was disappointing how by the books the explanation was. This movie does contain one of the single creepiest images I’ve seen in a movie in quite a while though. Actually, there’s a chance if you’ve heard of the movie but haven’t seen it, you may still know this part. I’m currently fighting every urge in my body not to make that shot the header image of this review.
Oh and I have mixed feelings about a found footage still being able to use score and sound effects. Feels a bit like they’re trying to have their cake and eat it too…an expression I’m just realizing I don’t understand.
The Taking is a scary movie. It’s not going to blow your mind or reshape horror as you know it, but it has some tricks up its sleeve and executes on them well. The plot starts out very intriguing and unfortunately doesn’t make good on that initial promise, but for pure thrills, this is a good one and definitely worth checking out.