“Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones” proves to be MUCH better than the last film in the series, and it succeeds in reinvigorating a franchise that was starting to look like it was running on fumes. In terms of story, it’s not all that different from the previous films and you do have a good idea of where the story is heading, but Christopher B. Landon who wrote the screenplays for “Paranormal Activity 2, 3 and 4” and directed this one is very deft at positioning the scares to where they come at you before you know it. Thanks to a terrific cast and a good dose of humor, it proves to be one of the best entries in the long running franchise.
“Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones” is not a direct sequel to “Paranormal Activity 4,” but instead a spin-off that features a family that is not white bred like all the other ones featured in the franchise. When the film begins, we are introduced to Jessie (Andrew Jacobs), a young Latino who has just graduated from high school along with his best friend Hector (Jorge Diaz). Soon after that, we see the whole family partying at their apartment complex and having a grand old time as they bid farewell to the hell that is high school.
But then one night they discover that their downstairs neighbor has died under suspicious circumstances. With nothing better to do, Jessie and Hector break into the apartment to figure out what happened. What they discover are a bunch of items that are used in black magic rituals as well as all those videotapes that formed the basis of “Paranormal Activity 3.” The next day, Jessie wakes up to discover what looks like a huge bite mark on his arm, and it’s a sign that his troubles are only about to begin.
The idea to focus on a Latino family for this “Paranormal Activity” was a smart one as it gives this entry a fresh feel to where we really take notice. The family presented here is a great one, and while Landon is really just out to give us a fun and scary time, he is also smart in giving us a group of Latinos that are not dominated by stereotypes. Some might complain that the film does traffic in those stereotypes, but I disagree. While many have a view of inner city neighborhoods as being violent hellholes, few seem to realize how close knit the families who live in them are, and many of them are not involved in a life of crime.
Part of me was hoping that the filmmakers would dare to film the whole movie in Spanish with subtitles, but since this is a “found footage” movie, they are apparently not allowed to do that. Still, that was a small quibble in the large scheme of things.
Another one of the main differences between “Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones” and the other films in the series is the amount of humor in it. This is not to say that the other films lacked humor, but I was surprised at how much I found myself laughing with this particular entry. A lot of that is thanks to Diaz who comes close to stealing the movie as Hector. Watching him get all super excited at the things that happen to and around his friend Jessie are a gas to watch, and he ends up becoming the real star of this movie as a result.
I also have to say that the ending of “Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones” is one I did not see coming. It ends up turning the whole franchise on its head as the events of this one seem to play a big part in the rest of the series to where you cannot help but watch the other films that came before this one.
Landon, who finally gets to direct a “Paranormal Activity” movie after having written so many of them, knows that we have become familiar with where to expect the scares to happen. To his credit, he plays on what we expect to see and provides us with some jump out of your seat moments we don’t quite see coming. At the same time, this particular entry is not quite as scary as the first three, but it definitely does have its moments if you patiently wait for them.
I got to see “Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones” with a preview audience, and they really dug the movie as a whole. Many movie franchises, regardless of the genre, live and die in regards to how audiences react to them, and this one shows that there is still a lot of life left in it. Even if it’s not as scary as the first three movies in this series, there is still a lot about it that makes it worth watching. Just when you think this series has reached its end, this entry makes you excited for what happens next.
I’ve been a big fan of this series since the first entry, and after watching this one, I am ever so curious to see which direction this one will take from here. Whether or not “Paranormal Activity 5” ends up following the events of this particular movie, this one leaves you very curious as to what you can expect from future installments. That’s a very good thing as this series works best on what fans are not expecting.
For me, I’m still waiting for the “Paranormal Activity” movie where the executives of Paramount Pictures get haunted by the demons for profiting on the tragedies that have befallen the families featured in this series. If they want people to keep believing that these found footage movies are real, than they should seriously consider that because this franchise really seems to be heading in that direction.