Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones (**)
Running Time: 84 minutes
Directed by Christopher Landon
Starring- Andrew Jacobs, Gabrielle Walsh and Jorge Diaz
(Belfast Odeon Screening 10/01/2014)
FANS of the Paranormal Activity franchise can finally rejoice, after having to endure the entirety of 2013 without any new instalments in their beloved series, this year they can look forward to two further entries within the franchise. The first of which kicks off with Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones which is now on general release.
After the bizarre murder of his reclusive next door neighbour, Jessie (Andrew Jacobs) and his friends search the elderly woman’s apartment hoping to find clues to the killer’s identify as they try to clear the name of their former classmate Oscar (Carlos Pratts). But during their investigations, Jessie encounters a mysterious presence that leaves the teenage boy with a strange mark on his skin and empowered with superhuman like abilities.
It all seems harmless enough at first, with shades of Josh Trank’s Chronicle creeping into the feature as Jessie documents his new found abilities on camera. But things quickly take a more sinister turn, as the spirit’s presence becomes increasingly more malevolent. It conspires that the strange mark on Jessie’s skin means he has marked for possession by the demonic entity and Hector (Jorge Diaz) and Marisol (Gabrielle Walsh) face a race against time to save their friend’s soul.
This entry described by its director and writer, Christopher Landon, as the ‘Latino cousin’ to the ongoing Paranormal Activity series, and not a sequel to the previous underwhelming fourth instalment. Although still existing within the same world, it shifts away from the existing story-arc and moves to the Californian Latino community. It expands the franchise’s already bulky mythology of demonology and witchcraft, by giving viewers a greater insight into the mysterious coven of witches, first seen in Paranormal Activity 3.
It’s all run of the mill formulaic found-footage stuff, as everything starts out very light-hearted and jovial before quickly becoming much darker and sinister. While this might be a vast improvement upon the dreary Paranormal Activity 4, the novelty factor on the found-footage aspect of the series has long run its course. Personally I’d suggest the film’s producers simply switch to a more traditional cinematic approach, like what happened with last year’s Eli Roth produced The Last Exorcism sequel. Or they try and merge the two formats together, in a similar vein to Scott Derrickson’s underrated 2012 chiller, Sinister.
That said there are still a few standout sequences within the feature, including an effectively creepy use of the electronic game Simon as a makeshift Ouija board. But where this film really falls down is its overstated attempt to connect itself within the ongoing Paranormal Activity franchise. Familiar faces pop up to make small cameo appearances and the film’s finale thinks it’s much cleverer than it really is, simply defying belief.
Love them or hate them, evidently found-footage films are here to stay, so long as they continue to offer Hollywood studios healthy financial returns they will continue to overpopulate the horror genre. For the foreseeable future yet, we can look forward to even more instalments in this already dreary and tired franchise.
By William McClean