Friday, November 21, 2014

logan's rum.


The Taking of Deborah Logan (2014).
Dir: Adam Robitel.
Cast: Jill Larson, Anne Ramsay, Michelle Ang, Anne Bedian, Ryan Cutrona and Jeremy DeCarlos.





Obviously deciding to go for the cheap laughs at the end of term movie party, film makers Mia (Neighbours Ang), Gavin (Banshee's gentle Gentile, Brett) and Luis (Ben 10: Alien Swarm star DeCarlos) have decided to make a documentary about the foxy redhead Deborah Logan (sexy screen stalwart Larson) and her battle with Alzheimer's disease.

At first reluctant to be filmed, Deborah only agrees to the project after much badgering from her surprisingly hot - in a manly way - daughter Sarah (the always watchable Ramsay, all checked shirted, chain smoking lesbian chic) who gently reminds her that they need the money to stop the bank from repossessing the house.

Told you it was a barrel of laughs.

Anyway filming begins with Deborah reminiscing about her earlier years working as the town switchboard after her husband had died, detailing how she would receive calls for some of the most rich and powerful people around and how she was privy to various secrets that could end their businesses - or hers - if she had ever spilled the beans.

Not literally obviously.

Tho' the thought of a naked, baked bean smothered Larson is worth taking a minute to think about.

Check the shirt.


Luckily for us the film isn't all old lady chat and boring tales of life in a small town as soon enough dishy Deborah is wandering around the garden barefoot and trying to attack various members of the crew with spoons leading her local GP, Dr. Nazir (Ex Canadian Armed Forces and TV fave Bedian) to believe that the disease is far more aggressive and advanced than first thought.

Not being an expert on such matters Luis is curious to find out if Deborah's habit of levitating in the kitchen and speaking French (very sexily I might add) is also a symptom of the disease. His concerns are swiftly dealt with by all concerned with a loud "You're talking the utter bollocks."

And loudest of all in their condemnation is Deborah's old friend and neighbour Harris Tweed (Potato nosed Cutrona) who is adamant that Sarah send the film crew away, accusing them of causing Deborah's descent into dementiadom.

Oblivious to everyone’s concerns  Deborah is having a whale of a time sitting stark naked at her old switchboard, her peachy arse perched saucily on her old work chair as she babbles on about raging rivers, human sacrifices and slithering snakes to a mysterious stranger on line 337 of her switchboard.

Or should that be witchboard?


Your gran DJ-ing at the old folks Christmas party yesterday.
 
After much - well a wee bit of - investigation (basically they asked the neighbours) our concerned crew discover that line 337 belonged to local physician cum cannibal kiddie killer Henry Desjardins (Campbell whom, it appears has made it his life to play doctors - onscreen that is, not too sure about real life), a very bad man who mysteriously disappeared after it was found that he'd murdered four local girls.

Blimey what a rotter.
All this old lady lewdness and killer confessions proves too much for poor Gavin tho' and he quits, returning to play Detective Feders in the The Red Road leaving  Luis and Mia to finish the documentary alone.

Which isn't as bad as it seems seeing as there's actually not much they can film at the moment seeing as Deborah's been hospitalized for her own safety.

If I were Mia I'd cut my losses, get Sarah drunk, well drunker, and make some lesbian porn.

She might not pass her course but I'm sure she'd make more cash from that than from the documentary.

Anyway back to the plot where Mia and the others have realized that the movie has reached the halfway point so it's time to get all that pesky backstory about Desjardins explained in full and tied into the main plot, so it's off to see local historian and paranormal buff Professor Franklin Exposition.

She's got something to put in you.


After much humming, hawing and looking intensely at a variety of old books the Professor explains that Desjardins reason for killing the girls was in order to  re-create an ancient demonic ritual that would make him immortal - which is nice - but unfortunately (for Desjardins that is) the ritual called for deaths of five girls and that all of them had to have recently had their first 'womens period'.

Whatever that is.

So can you guess who the fifth victim was to be?

Yup, after hassling Harris, Mia and co. find out that Deborah had overheard Desjardins plan for Sarah to be his fifth victim and that the pair had murdered the doctor before burying his body in the garden.

Could Desjardin have returned from beyond the grave (OK from behind therose bush) and even now be attempting to use Deborah's Alzheimer addled body to complete the ritual?

It would explain her obsession with trying to abduct a bucktoothed young cancer patient named Cara from the hospital wouldn't it?

Accepting everything that they've been told without question Mia and Sarah begin a desperate race against time to find a way to stop the unearthly Desjardin from completing his plan and hopefully save Deborah's very soul in the process.

Because let's be honest here, she's so far gone I doubt there'd be anything else worth salvaging.

They don't have to look too hard for a solution tho' as the Professor is soon back in contact with them explaining that his pal George once saw a similar case in Africa.

What are the chances?

You see there was this grieving mum who was, it seems possessed by the spirit of her dead son.

And the only way to free her?

Easy, they got a local witch doctor to burn the boys corpse.

Sorted.

"Stay back! This Kinder Egg is all mine!"



As if things couldn't get any better it looks like they wont even have to search for Desjardins body,seeing as dishy Debs has already dug it up and popped it in the attic for safe keeping.

Unfortunately it's way too damp and sticky to burn.

Meanwhile back at the hospital Harris is busying himself trying to carry out Deborah's last wish, which by the look of things is to be smothered by an overweight old man whilst wriggling her hips suggestively.

Desjardin's spirit has other ideas tho' and proceeds to batter Harris around the head with a handy TV set. 

Tempting....


Deciding that it'd probably be easier to burn a child killers corpse in an ER waiting room than in a kitchen Sarah, Mia and Luis rush to the hospital only to discover that Deborah has not only succeeded in kidnapping poor Cara but also suddenly gained the ability to spit poison in a snake-like manner at the various security guards and staff that have tried to stop her.

Creepy.

Let's just hope that she stopped to get Cara a hat on the way out.

"Shite in mah big serpant mooth!"


With Deborah seemingly headed to the very location where Desjardins had murdered all of his previous victims, it's left to Sarah and Mia(alongside Sarah's old crush Deputy Linda Twee) to prevent the ritual being completed.

Oh and to keep the camera running and in focus obviously, I mean this is a found footage movie after all.

Jill Larson: Twice.

 After what seems like an eternity of being subjected to a barrage of badly made found footage fiascoes it's nice to finally see one that's halfway decent and genuinely unnerving.

A pity then that it's problems actually stem from it being found footage (OK faux documentary) as apposed to being shot as a straight horror thriller.

The documentary crew premise although well worn is given a neat twist by having the main protagonist Deborah not as some vulnerable young girl but as a strong older woman and whereas most films of this ilk play on that obscure childhood fear of spirits and demons, here screenwriter Gavin Heffernan alongside director Robitel use the very real fears of ageing and disease as a springboard to play around with these well worn themes in a unique and genuinely unnerving way.

Michelle Ang: if Jill were busy.
 
Kudos to TV veteran Jill Larson, whose central performance as Deborah Logan is not only pitch perfect but acts as an anchor to the other cast members, especially the oft seen and vastly under-rated Anne Ramsay who breathes genuine life into what could be a real cliche of a character.

Yup, as I said the premise is great, the acting top notch and the direction is solid, so it's really upsetting that any tension built up is in danger of being instantly quashed by being shot in shaky cam.

The whole premise of Mia and her crew making a documentary about Alzheimer's would still work fine in 'traditional' film making form but with the added bonus of being able to see stuff properly.

Which would be great when it comes to the big pay off which visually is so unexpected and nightmarish that it deserves more than a wobbly hand cranked close-up.

Anne Ramsay: Surprisingly supple and open to new ideas.


Smaller, spookier and a damn sight scarier than The Possession of Michael King and the like The Taking of Deborah Logan may not re-invent the genre but it plays around with its conventions just enough to stay with you long after viewing.

And is entertaining enough to forgive the surprise twist that is so obviously signposted from the halfway point that you'd be surprised if anything but that happened at the end.

Just turn off before the Bugs Bunny kid turns up turns up to taint your memory  of Jill Larson in the cave based climax.

You'll thank me in the morning.










 

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