The first American spin-off in the Paranormal Activity cannon, Marked Ones mixes up the now battered formula of the franchise best known for inducing motion sickness, Paranormal Activity. Oren Peli’s sensation 2007 debut surpassed what I thought was possible in contemporary horror when he used a marketing campaign that relied on voting to bring the film to a theater near you. Unfortunately, the horror film usually never lets anything go gracefully, thus we have genre gems such as Jason X, Halloween : H2O and Texas Chainsaw Massacre : The Next Generation. So maybe this one was destined to dive head first into the cinematic concrete wall, but when horror comes a knockin’, I’m always the first to answer.
The fifth entry in the Paranormal Activity series throws the handicam towards recent high school graduate Jesse (Andrew Jacobs) and his lumpy companion Hector (Jorge Diaz). This most recent Activity does not occur in the affluent, white-washed suburbia that this series predominately has fixated on in the past, but instead resides in the Spanish-American neighborhood of Oxnard, California. Although the film obviously attempts to tap into a Spanish-speaking demography, as Jesse often translates his grandmother to the clueless Hector, the movie still remains an English-spoken film. This is just one way the film desperately attempts to differentiate itself from prior series offerings, ultimately feeling dizzy at the hands of its constant, break-neck pace and hollow details.
Throughout the entirety of the film, Jesse becomes plagued with a laundry list of demonic happenings following the appearance of a bite mark on his arm. He’s been bit, he wards off thugs with telekinesis, and even falls backwards only to be saved at the last second by an unseeable force. The good times quickly subside as Jesse discovers he is a “marked one”, or a child chosen by demonic spirits in the event of the mother dying in the process of birth.
When Hector posts the footage of his superhuman friend online, the comment section skepticism resonated with me more than a film that attempts, yet again, the “found-footage” style to evoke realism. No one in there right mind would argue that a film would substitute concise cinematography, balanced editing and proper lighting without some sort of claim of actual paranormal activity occurring. Marked Ones has an unusually likable cast and it’s incorporation of witchcraft served Spanish style certainly feels like new territory for the series, but with such a heavy reliance on themes from pervious series entries not only does this late-year shocker comes off as more confusing than creepy.
At the end of the day, these type of films either excite or nauseate, but even for fans of the trigger-happy horror, Marked Ones just hangs onto a series that is quickly becoming five movies too many. If the found-footage fan is really dying for some psuedo-documentary fright-fest, I would suggest looking into Kôji Shiraishi’s POV classic Noroi : The Curse and his 2013 film Cult instead.
[schema type=”review” name=”Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones | Review Summary” description=”The Awesome: Characters I didn’t want to immediately die, Brujería! | The Not so Awesome: Shaky camera seems to try to cover up things that are bad and are still bad, too many references to terrible previous entries ” rev_name=”Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones” rev_body=”An aging franchise attempts to tap into Spanish-American life as lead protagonist Jesse slowly transforms into the demon he’s destined to become. A potential flag bearer for a series that desperately needs to go down quietly, but instead insists on trying to convince the audience its still really cool and innovative. ” author=”Spencer Churchill” pubdate=”2014-01-12″ user_review=”4″ min_review=”0″ max_review=”10″ ]
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