Friday, April 17, 2015

The Taking of Deborah Logan, The Horrors of Alzheimer's

The diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease is the start of a long, tortuous journey.  This journey is a curse for not only the one suffering from the disease, but for those family members and caregivers who must summon a mercy they never dreamed themselves capable.  As the adult sons and daughters care for their elderly parent, they must witness the slow disintegration of someone they loved dearly. In addition to grief, the caregiver must then battle extreme guilt, which they don't dare reveal to anyone.  Perhaps the caregiver begins to pray their parent die speedily.  Or perhaps, they wrestle with a guilt because they see themselves as the real victim, not the parent who is afflicted.  In 2014's "The Taking of Deborah Logan," Adam Robitel (Director and co-writer) gives us a horror tale of such horror and creepiness; it serves as a fitting metaphor for the above mentioned journey.
Mia (Michelle Ang) is creating a documentary about Alzheimer's.  She and her crew, Gavin (Brett Gentile) and Luis (Jeremy DeCarlos), have arranged to spend some time with Deborah Logan (Jill Larson) and her care-giving daughter, Sarah (Anne Ramsay).  Deborah is in the early stages of Alzheimer's, and is a very attractive and proud senior.  She is doing her best to stave off the affliction, knowing it will never be cured.  Sarah has given up her career (....and life) to care for her mom, and one can easily see she is beginning to break.  Unfortunately, as the filming starts, Deborah goes downhill and advances to the middle stages of this disease.  With the middle stages comes some unexplained behavior.  Sarah is caught on tape doing things that are physically impossible, and turning violent, even to the extreme of self-mutilation.  Deborah's painting and ramblings suggest she believes a dark force is headed her way.....and she is right.
As Deborah gets more violent, the consequences get more gory.  We are let in on a most eerie and horrific back-story, which will come to the forefront soon.  As Deborah drifts farther away, her neighbor Harris (Ryan Cutrona) takes more of an interest.  Harris is vehement about sending Mia and her crew away, but Sarah needs the cash. Uh oh, even worse than her identity slipping away, Deborah seems to be taking on the persona of a ritualistic murderer of children.  Her doctors are baffled and priests and anthropology professors are consulted.  The story gets so horrific, I will stop my plot description here and let you know the last 30 minutes will be incredibly hard to watch (...especially if you have a fear of snakes).  People will be killed, and the very end is, shall we say...unsettling.
Some have called this the best possession film since "The Exorcist."  Perhaps.  We really pull for the characters, especially Sarah.  Many times we, the viewer, hope Deborah would just die.  This sentiment is never expressed by Sarah, who comes across as a saint.  Even Michelle Ang's portrayal of Mia has us caring for her plight as well.  At first, she is an opportunistic film-maker.  She transcends into a caring human being, genuinely caring for the Logans.  Perhaps the real-life horror of Alzheimer's is nowhere as scary as possession, snakes, demons, or murder....but those metaphors may be appropriate for the horror and suffering many battling the disease will endure.  Available on Netflix, this is a horror story, real and imagined.  

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