Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones

Director: Christopher Landon

Writer: Christopher Landon

Cast: Andrew Jacobs, Jorge Diaz, Gabrielle Walsh, Renee Victor, Noemi Gonzalez, David Saucedo, Gloria Sandoval, Richard Cabral, Carlos Pratts, Juan Vasquez, Alonso Alvarez, Wallis Barton, Jessica Tyler Brown, Hector Luis Bustamante, Lucy Chambers

Synopsis: Jessie begins experiencing a number of disturbing and unexplainable things after the death of his neighbor. As he investigates, it isn't long before Jessie finds he's been marked for possession by a malevolent demonic entity, and it's only a matter of time before he is completely under its control...

MPAA Rating: Rated R for pervasive language, some violence, graphic nudity and some drug use

Who said white folks were the only stupid people in horror films?

Before anyone cries foul over the title of this review, I'm not a racist or anything. However, it often seems like a stereotype among minorities to say that white people are often the dumbest people in horror flicks because they're typically the ones that are portrayed as the victims. And since this film stars predominantly a hispanic family, I thought it might make a nice joke. Nothing more or less.

As for this movie, I'm simply at a loss for words to be honest. When I saw the first two "Paranormal Activity" films, they were arguably among the scariest horror movies that I've ever seen. Sadly, it's been going downhill since those two great features. Sure, "Paranormal Activity 3" had it's moments, but it couldn't live up to the first two. I remember reading a review once on "Paranormal Activity 4" that claimed it was good, as the review cited how many fans of the franchise have grown more cynical over the franchise because the novelty of it's concept has sort of worn off.

Granted, that's definitely true. The novelty of the franchise has worn off, but even judging this film on it's own merit, does that make it a good movie? Let's get into that now.

For those wondering if this is supposed to be a sequel or prequel to the previous entries, it's neither. No, this is more of a spin off to the franchise if anything else. Although the story is said to take place after the events of "Paranormal Activity 4" if that helps at all.

The story focuses on a hispanic family living in a urbanized neighborhood. Jessie graduates from high school, along with his best friend, Hector. For some odd reason, they just love to record everything they do since one of them got a new camera. In fact, some of the stuff they record is typically stuff you might find on shows like "Jackass." Like in one scene for example, one of them decides it would be funny to record the other one sliding down a flight of stairs using a laundry basket as a sled. Heck, there's even a prank scene where one of them decides to draw a man's genitals on the other one's cheek while they're sleeping. I guess you can say they're basically boys being boys.

However, things start to get interesting though, as one of their neighbors dies mysteriously. And instead of letting the police handle the situation, they decide to investigate the murder themselves. Jinkies! It looks like we have ourselves another mystery on our hands gang. Damn, where is Scooby Doo and his friends when you need them?

As luck would have it, Jessie finds out that he's been marked by a demonic entity, and it's only a matter of time before he becomes possessed. Enter the concept of time travel into the mix along with demonic rituals and witchcraft, and that pretty much sums up "Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones" in a nutshell.

While this one does answer quite a few lingering questions from the previous films, along with raising a few others, I can't help but feel that's kind of the problem with this film. Granted, it's great from a narrative perspective that it does explain a few things from the past movies, but it's like the old saying goes. Sometimes less is more. That statement couldn't be more true when it comes to horror movies in general.

As Ian McKellan once said in "X-Men", "Humanity always fears most what they don't understand." The reason why the first two "Paranormal Activity" films were so scary wasn't because of the found footage concept; although that did help out a lot.

It was scary because it left so much out intentionally, while showing very little to allow for the viewers' imagination to wander as they watch the film unfold. Toying with the minds of the viewers, as it built up the suspense with subtle imagery that could easily be explained logically at first. However, as the events unfolded, the imagery gradually became a bit more disturbing and less subtle to deliver the frights when the viewers' guards were let down. Sadly, "Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones" doesn't even attempt to do that either.

There's nothing subtle about the imagery shown in this film, as you can pretty much see every scare tactic coming from over a mile away. Even if I never seen a "Paranormal Activity" film in my entire life, this film would still be nothing if not insanely predictable, as it spends way too much time on exposition. And then throughout the latter half of the damn film, it tries to scare the living crap out of us? Yeah, good luck with that.

Unfortunately, this also means that unless you've been following the series up to this point, then chances are you're going to be completely lost coming into this film; which alienates any possibility to generate new fans into the franchise.

Although I won't go on record to say this is the worst horror movie that I've ever seen, as it does have it's good points as well. The time travel plot device was rather interesting concept, as it did help provide answers to a few things; particularly the ending to the first "Paranormal Activity" film. Sadly though, it just fails to be remotely scary.

Overall, it's a fairly mediocre horror film at a rating of one and a half out of four. If you're a huge fan of the franchise already, then it's definitely worth checking out once it comes out on Blue Ray/DVD. However, if you're not a fan of the franchise, then chances are I wouldn't count on this being the movie that converts you into the fandom.


© 2014 Steven Escareno

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