To explore the world of “Paranormal Activity” movies, it has to be accepted that no matter how intense the danger, the characters are always going to be filming with their cameras. It’s ridiculous and illogical, but that is how it has been since the original. At least back then, the cameras were mostly stationary. Would it hurt to have the main character in one of these films be a working cinematographer or at least a film student? One that knows how to frame a shot?
“Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones” is the fifth film in the series, and yet another sequel is supposed to hit theaters in October. And just like with “Paranormal Activity 4”, the found footage aspect is starting to wear a little thin. At least this time around the viewer doesn’t feel like they are part of a FaceTime chat for half the movie, but the frequent shaky cam in the first third is enough to make some people borderline nauseous. Not to mention the fact that this time around, the film uses long turns far too often. Whoever is holding the camera(which seems to change hands quite a bit) will turn one way, and when they do a one-eighty, boo! It’s a cheap way to generate a scare and starts to feel overused.
The film has a few creepy moments, but not enough for it to feel like sitting through all the other nonsense is worth it. And all the bloat added to a 90-minute flick leads to some pacing problems, as Jesse goes from enjoying the odd things that start happening to him to really struggling with them at the drop of a dime. When the film opens, the protagonist(do “Paranormal Activity” films really have protagonists? Perhaps not…) Jesse is graduating high school. Perhaps the only reason to start with such a scene is to free up Jesse so he can spend his days investigating the creepy old lady that lives below him. When she ends up dead, and a former classmate of Jesse’s seems to be the prime suspect, he and his friend Hector decide to go down and explore the crime scene.
Why the cops didn’t clean up all of the evidence that Hector and Jesse find is a good question to ask, but that would be asking a lot of a screenplay that kills time by showing video footage of Jesse making his dog dance, and Hector going down concrete balcony stairs in a laundry basket. Even the now age-old joke of drawing genitalia on somebody’s face goes on for a few minutes, and not one person in the audience even chuckled. But perhaps because half of them were busy on their phones, texting away. If “Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones” can’t at least hold a teenager’s interest as disposable entertainment, then perhaps it’s time to let it be possessed. Perhaps it’s time to move away from this handicam found-footage nonsense. I would be interested to see a normal, third-person style film play in the world of “Paranormal Activity.” Perhaps that can be for the final chapter, which should be coming soon. Judging by these last two entries, it may be time for Katie and Micah to come back and wrap things up.
A final note: “Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones” wastes time with a scene where Jesse and Hector go to a local neighborhood party and pick up a couple of girls. They take them back to Jesse’s apartment, but his grandmother is asleep in the living room. In a scene I found awkward and borderline offensive, Jesse takes the girl down to the apartment of his downstairs neighbor, who was very recently murdered. They start making out on the living room floor, and perhaps the bloodstains in the bedroom haven't even been fully cleaned up yet. Ladies, a little piece of advice: if somebody wants to sleep with you on the floor of a crime scene, have enough self-respect to walk away. Heck, try running away.