Greetings, all. Ambush Bug here. Happy Birthday to AICN HORROR which celebrates its sixth year on Ain’t It Cool News in October! And what a fantastic year in horror it was! Always hoping to pass on new and exciting films for all of you ravenous readers, I have once again compiled a list counting down my favorite horror film released since last October 1, 2014 and covered in my weekly AICN HORROR: ZOMBIES & SHARKS column.
As far as how I compiled this list? Well, I simply looked over my AICN HORROR columns over the last year since October 1st, 2014 (which happens to be the birthday of this little column six years ago!) and worked and reworked a list throughout the year until I had 31. No real method to my special brand of madness; just my own personal favorites. The only rule qualifying the film for this countdown is that it had to be released to the masses (via theaters, digital download, On Demand, or DVD/BluRay) within the range of October 1, 2014 and October 1, 2015. Anything before or after that span of time doesn’t count in this haunted dojo. I’ll be counting down every day until Halloween to my favorite horror film of the year. I’ll also provide a second film suggestion at the end of each post that is worth noting or just missed making the list for those who can’t get enough horror.
So let’s get to it! Chime in after the article and let me know what you think of the pick, it’s placing on the list, how on the nose or mind-numbingly wrong I am, and most importantly, let me know your own personal faves from the last year in horror…let’s go!
#24 THE TAKING OF DEBORAH LOGAN
Available on iTunes here!
THE TAKING OF DEBORAH LOGAN (2014)aka THE TAKING
Directed by Adam Robitel
Written by Gavin Heffernan, Adam Robitel
Starring Jill Larson, Anne Ramsay, Michelle Ang, Ryan Cutrona, Anne Bedian, Brett Gentile, Jeremy DeCarlos, Tonya Bludsworth, Julianne Taylor
Find out more about this film on Facebook here
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
Full disclosure time: old people scare the shit out of me. Sure it’s probably my own reluctance to accept the fact that I myself am getting older and that my own mortality is much more apparent on a daily basis these days, but still, there’s something about old people that creep me the hell out more than any clown, serial killer, or sasquatch.
And maybe that’s why I found THE TAKING OF DEBORAH LOGAN so fascinating and frightening. The film is a mockumentary of sorts about an attempt to make a documentary about a woman suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, focusing on one patient named Deborah Logan (Jill Larson) as she battles the disease every day and following the degeneration as it destroys her mind and body. Not a very chipper subject, I know, but it does approach this horror from a standpoint that feels pretty genuine and definitely new. While the fear of disease is often the subject of horror films, I don’t remember one dealing with Alzheimer’s, so this one gets points from me for originality.
It also feels real, something that is a lot tougher than most would think with a found footager such as this. Acting like you’re not acting is one thing, but acting in a naturalistic manner that makes one believe the footage being shot is real and documentarian, that’s another issue altogether. Here, the reactions from the documentary reporter Mia (Michelle Ang) and her camera crew Gavin (Brett Gentile) and Luis (Jeremy DeCarlos) feel genuine, as they clearly break their code of silence by stating that they didn’t sign up for the wacked out shit that begins to happen during this documentary. Gentile especially gets points for his convincing yet self-serving performance as the guy who can only take so much.
Points for acting also have to be given to the actress playing the title character, Jill Larson. This is a bold performance by the actress who isn’t afraid to get dirty and scary, going to unglamorous places most actresses of her age would fear to tread. DEXTER’s Anne Ramsay plays Deborah’s daughter Sarah with a lot of nuance as well. Sure she could have played the one-note grieving daughter, but instead she gives a layered portrayal of someone forced to watch a loved one wither away.
And things do get rather wacky. I don’t think it’ll be a spoiler to say this is not your typical Alzheimer’s case the crew is filming. There’s a deep dark history at play here and as the mystery comes to light, it gets all the more dire and creepy. Moreso than any other found footage film, though, director Adam Robitel does a fantastic job of manipulating the camera and the direction of the story. Using pitch blackness, flashes of light, and unintentional catches on the camera, Robitel is able to make it all feel real and not staged. Never is there a time when the camera falls at the right place to capture something, and even though things get a bit shaky, it seems to be done so with intent rather than just typical shaky cam chaos.
For some reason, all of the attempts at horror hit me with this film. Occasionally there are some cheats here and there. Some musical beats are added to make some of the reveals more impactful and multiple types of cameras are used. But the beginning of the film says this film was put together through doc footage, stock footage, and security cam shots, so it kind of covers its tracks and makes it all more acceptable. If you’re looking for a found footage film done right, I think THE TAKING OF DEBORAH LOGAN does more things right than most. Sure, this isn’t going to change the minds of those who automatically dismiss a film for being first person POV, but it definitely ranks as one of the most effective entries in this popular subgenre.
Worth noting: THE ATTICUS INSTITUTE!
#31 – AN AMERICAN TERROR
#30 – WE ARE STILL HERE
#29 – FROM THE DARK
#28 – THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN
#27 – DEAD SNOW 2: DEAD VS RED
#26 – THE GREEN INFERNO
#25 – THE EDITOR
Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, original @$$Hole/wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of AICN COMICS for over 13 years & AICN HORROR for 6. Follow Ambush Bug on the Twitters @Mark_L_Miller.
Find more AICN HORROR including an archive of previous columns on AICN HORROR’s Facebook page!