The fifth installment of the blockbuster Paranormal Activity franchise has hit theaters and even though it was not during its usual Halloween release date, the film still has enough pull to get even the most reluctant horror fans to flock to the cinemas. Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones is written (and for the first time in the series' tenure, directed) by Christopher Landon, the screenwriter of every sequel to date. And even though it is his theatrical debut as a director, Landon shows that he has just as much going for him behind the camera as the previous sequel directors showed.
Starting off like a seemingly unrelated tangental story, the death of a neighbor who may or may not be caught up in witchcraft sparks a series of inexplicable supernatural events that connect quite nicely to the rest of the series. Though there are several flaws (ones that would absolutely destroy a film in another genre), the scares are still fresh and the gimmick of "found footage horror" is still going strong. There are a series of unanswered questions that plague the entire film, but most of those are not due to the scripting, but rather the acting and the directing. These two flaws are easily dismissed as that of amateur filmmaking, and in a sense, forgivable.
The story is by far the biggest strength of this entry in the series. Where the first one had the style, and the second one had the script, the third and fourth sort of fell flat with the "reward" at the ends of each film respectively. This film, although plagued with terrible acting by relative unknowns throughout, succeeds where the last two films failed. The ending is brave and actually not only wraps up loose ends in previous films (as well as this one), but actually expands the mythos of the world that the original created. This is not the worst of the franchise, but is definitely an improvement over the last two films. And it will have moviegoers flocking to see the inevitable sixth in what will undoubtedly be the next successful long-running horror series.