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Film / The Taking of Deborah Logan

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The Taking of Deborah Logan is a 2014 Found Footage horror film presented as a documentary. A group of 3 college students - Mia, Gavin, and Luis - head to Exuma, Virginia to live with an aging Alzheimer's patient, Deborah, and her daughter Sarah to record the progression of the disease, as well as the toll it will (hypothetically) take on Sarah to give the level of care needed to her mother as she deals with the illness. However, as the illness worsens, Deborah starts to exhibit signs of something else altogether.


"The Troping of Deborah Logan":

  • Animal Motifs: Dr. Desjardins seemed to be associated with snakes, and they show up at various instances throughout the film. This is all due to his occult ritual practices, wherein he would poison young girls with rattlesnake venom, carve snakes into their foreheads, and partially cannibalize them in worship of "the eternal serpent".
    • As Deborah's condition worsens, she begins to take on increasingly snake-like qualities: she repeatedly attempts to remove her own skin, develops a large rash akin to scales on her back, forms a habit of staying completely still before lashing at people, bites and injects an officer with venom, and later projectile spits acid at another one. Once the possession seems to completely take hold over her, Deborah takes Cara to an underground "den" and tries to swallow the girl whole, with her jaws completely distended and fully encasing Cara's skull.
  • Asian Airhead: Mia.
  • Asshole Victim: Dr. Desjardins was a serial killer who abducted and ritually sacrificed young girls in an attempt to give himself immortality. When his next intended victim's mother got wind of his plans, he had more than earned the grisly death she gave him.
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  • Audience Surrogate: The members of the film crew take turns playing this role, but Gavin is the standout example. He leaves the production early after Harris shoots at them, pointing out how ridiculous the whole thing is getting and how crazy the others are for sticking around.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: They manage to exorcise Deborah, but it turns out that Desjardins was able to possess the girl she'd kidnapped, helping her make a "miraculous recovery" while leaving Deborah herself on the hook for said kidnapping, and her health quickly fails afterward.
  • Body Horror: Deborah's jaw unhinging and stretching at the climax of the film.
  • Butch Lesbian: Sarah, Deborah’s daughter, is this. She dresses and behaves rather masculinely, and talks to her girlfriend on the phone at one point. She also recounts an incident where, as a child, her mother sent her Off to Boarding School after catching Sarah kissing a girl in the garage (though given the events of the movie, it's possible it was actually to protect Sarah from Dejardins.)
  • Butt-Monkey: Gavin. Nobody seems to listen to him about the strange things going on, he's threatened by a hysterical Deborah with a knife at one point, and Harris drunkenly blasts his van with shotgun rounds later on. He decides to leave before the situation has a chance to get any worse.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Deborah's job as the switchboard operator for the town was what led to the events of the movie.
  • Demonic Possession: Of the "vengeful spirit" variety.
  • Direct-to-DVD: It got released directly to streaming services and DVD.
  • Fan Disservice: At one point, Deborah gets up in the middle of the night and strips naked to go to her old switchboard. She's skinny, elderly, and with a rash on her back, though nothing explicit is seen due to the angle. In the following scene, her robe is open, exposing her nipples as her doctor checks her vitals, but again due to the context it is the opposite of tantalizing.
  • Foreshadowing: The crew goes to visit an anthropology professor, Dr. Ernst Schiffer, in hopes of better understanding Deborah's condition. He tells them the long-running belief is that anyone young, elderly, or sick is more vulnerable to possession by a "spiritual parasite". While Deborah does indeed fit the latter two qualifications, Cara being a nine-year-old cancer patient is what leads to her possibly becoming Desjardins's latest host at the end of the film.
  • For Science!: Part of Mia's motivation to stick around, as the video project is part of her doctoral dissertation about the tolls Alzheimer's takes on those taking care of the afflicted.
  • A Friend in Need: Why Mia refuses to leave Sarah even though the other members of her film crew have already gone Screw This, I'm Out of Here!
  • Found Footage Films: See above.
  • Genre Savvy: Gavin and Luis, who approach nearly every situation with the utmost caution and leave when things become too dangerous.
  • Human Sacrifice: What Desjardins was killed for, and what he possessed Deborah to complete.
  • Idiot Ball: Pretty much every film crew member gets a firm grip on this at least once during the movie's runtime.
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: During the climax, Sarah screams for her mother to fight back against Desjardins's possession. It apparently works and Deborah gets a hold of herself just long enough for Sarah to destroy Desjardins's remains.
  • I'm Not Afraid Of You: Sarah shifts into this during the climax, with her rage and worry over her mother overpowering her fear. This is even more apparent when Sarah and Mia are forced to crawl through a small tunnel that is filled with numerous snakes. In previous instances, Sarah has shown quite a lot of fear towards the reptiles, but when one lashes at her while she's crawling through the constricting space, she straight out smacks it away, angrily shouting, "Go fuck yourself!"
  • Jump Scare: The movie relies heavily on these throughout.
  • Mama Bear: Bet you regret targeting Deborah's daughter now, huh Desjardins?
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: How the more supernatural elements start off being presented, until it becomes abundantly clear that it's not just Alzheimer's disease. The first scene that changes it firmly to Magic is when Deborah teleports to the kitchen counter.
  • Police Are Useless: Numerous examples:
    • Allowing Sarah (or anyone) to repeatedly shove past them in the hospital...
    • Venturing into active crime scenes with random people following them and getting in the way...
    • Not arresting Harris when he's drunk and shooting at people...
    • Getting killed or incapacitated repeatedly... you name it.
  • Powers via Possession: When Deborah becomes snake-like near the end, with a handful of instances earlier in the film.
  • Sanity Slippage: Deborah starts off as a friendly old woman, but progressively becomes more unhinged as the film goes on. Everyone chalks it up to the Alzheimer's before something more sinister is revealed to be the leading cause.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Defied the first time it's attempted (following Deborah threatening one of the cameramen with a knife), but followed through later on. Twice.
  • Shown Their Work: The science of Alzheimer's disease is discussed and Jill Larson provides an excellent performance as a sufferer. Particularly of note is her first tantrum about her lost spade - an example of 'sundowning', where sufferers can become more irritable, aggressive, and abrasive in the evenings.
  • Snakes Are Sinister: Snakes show up quite a lot, including when the crew is trying to burn the sack containing Desjardins's decaying body. Numerous black snakes come slithering out during the attempt, and the cast naturally panic. Later on when they're in the cave system, they know they're getting closer to where Deborah is as they find a tunnel filled with several snakes.
  • Swallowed Whole: Attempted. Cara is almost eaten alive by a fully-possessed Deborah, but Sarah interrupts her before it can happen.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The trailer gives away a fact that's first revealed halfway through the movie.
  • Vocal Dissonance: Deborah's voice takes on a disturbingly deeper cadence whenever she's possessed.