I bet you’re surprised to see a brand new Paranormal Activity movie! Actually, I’m sure you had no idea it was coming out at all. Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones (or Actividad Paranormal) is actually the first wide release of 2014. Does this sequel start the year off right?
The Marked Ones is actually the 5th movie in the too-long series. However, there is no “5” in the title because this movie is considered a spinoff. It was supposed to be released this past October (you know, the best time for horror flicks), but it wasn’t quite finished so it has been sent to the desolate movie graveyard of January. Just you wait, the official Paranormal Activity 5 is coming out this October. They just need to hire a director and screenwriters that will write the script in about 2 weeks.
The Marked Ones follows two best friends, Jesse and Hector. Jesse just graduated high school and Hector celebrates by buying a new video camera (?). These two amigos notice some bizarre sounds coming from their downstairs neighbor’s apartment. She is known in their ghetto apartment complex as a witch. When she is murdered by a seemingly normal classmate of Jesse’s, these two friends investigate her apartment and start to realize what she was up to and how they are linked to the evil. Jesse quickly goes through changes (an evil puberty of sorts) and becomes progressively more aggressive and seems less and less like himself every day.
It’s not uncommon to think that Paranormal Activity has become the joke that the Saw series once was. Just how far can your suspension of disbelief of EVERYTHING being filmed go? I’m actually a fan of the 1st and 3rd movies in the series. The first Paranormal Activity felt new. While it doesn’t hold up in subsequent viewings, it had some genuinely creepy moments. The second movie wasn’t awful by any means, but it felt like more of the same. The third movie is clearly the most farcical, showing HD footage in the ’80s, but it showed very inventive ways to scare an audience. The less that’s said about the 4th movie, the better. Any movie with an Xbox Kinect as the plot narrative is garbage.
This 5th movie changes the tired format of the series which typically went as follows:
Day – Hey, I bought a camera. I’m going to record us sleeping.
Night – nothing happens.
Day – Let’s try to convince the audience to like us. I’m going to film you making toast.
Night – Nothing happens, but a noise is heard.
Day – Look at this camera footage of nothing happening. We must have a ghost in the house.
Night – A loud noise precedes a shadow in the hallway.
Day – We definitely have a ghost. Let’s provoke it.
Night – Someone gets possessed, everyone dies.
The Marked Ones changes the typical pace by focusing on the character development for the first half of the movie without the slow burn scares. It’s only in the second half of the movie that the situation starts going downhill. Did I mention this movie is only 84 minutes?
Now to finally get to the point. Is Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones any good? Let me put it this way, it’s the Fast Five of the PA franchise. It reaches a point of ridiculousness that few movies can match. Just as Fast Five is the dumbest movie of the F&F series, it also revitalized the franchise. This movie is irredeemably dumb, but it does not apologize for its series of ludicrous scenes, but rather takes them further than necessary. Without spoiling the end of the movie you’re never going to see, I’ll just say that demonic time travel is involved.
This movie breaks every horror movie law. First, you never mock an alleged witch. Second, you never have sex in a murder house. Third, if there is a crawlspace, you never go in. And lastly, it’s never a good idea to play with a Ouija board. Oh except that in this movie, instead of receiving paranormal answers while using a Ouija board, these characters use the memory game, Simon. The demon replies “No” by using the red buzzer and “Yes” using the green buzzer. No, I’m not kidding.
Beyond Jesse and Hector being likable characters, nothing in this movie makes sense. Does Hector live with Jesse and his grandma? How does Ali (from part 2) know where the witch house is? This movie is clearly and cleverly marketed towards the Latino population, it’s just unfortunate they didn’t attempt to bring in old South American folklore. I would actually like to see horror stories from different cultures, but they took the easy way out by associating this story with the same camera-hungry demon that’s been central to the series.
For a spinoff, this movie ties in directly with the rest of the series. There is really no reason this shouldn’t be called part 5. If you’re as patient with the series as I have been, you’ll have a good laugh at a few creative choices (shotgun witches) but this movie is very unnecessary on the whole. It does have a extremely silly, yet satisfying ending that put a big goofy smile on my face. Essentially, this might just be the 3rd best Paranormal Activity movie, but there is no need to see it, especially not in the theater.