Dir: Christopher Landon
Cast: Andrew Jacobs, Jorge Diaz, Gabrielle Walsh, Carlos Pratts and Renee Victor
Synopsis: Jessie begins experiencing a number of disturbing and unexplainable things after the death of his neighbor. As he investigates, it isn’t long before Jessie finds he’s been marked for possession by a malevolent demonic entity, and it’s only a matter of time before he is completely under its control.
*Reviewer Note: This will be a non-spoiler as always.*
Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones is being described as a “spinoff” of Paranormal Activity series. This is somewhat true, in that this is the first film to not center around Kristi or Katie’s family (Paranormal Activity 4 ultimately did tie in at the end). However, I’ll get to it later but needless to say the movie opens up a whole new can of worms.
The Marked Ones centers on high school graduate Jesse (Jacobs) and his friends Hector (Diaz) and Marisol (Walsh). Jesse, like every main character of the series, gets a new camera that he and Hector use any time they can get. However, when a woman that everyone calls a witch and lives under Jesse dies, Jesse and Hector decide to do of course the horror movie cliché and go check out the dead woman’s apartment. When there they discover that she was indeed up to some very strange things and even find a picture of Jesse in front of a alter. After finding that Jesse finds himself changing and displaying what appears to be superhuman abilities. Soon he starts to become unwelcoming and violent.
Director Christopher B. Landon, who has written all of the Paranormal sequels, does a strong job of establishing this new group of characters and Jacobs and Diaz are a likable duo, establishing a strong friendship between the two (Walsh is good, but her character doesn’t really do much). Landon brings in more of a sense of humor than other films in this series, thanks to the early scenes of Jesse and Hector running around, having a good time. There’s also some moments that echo Chronicle, as Jesse experiments with his “powers,” and it’s a fun mixture to have those sort of scenes intersect with the Paranormal Activity universe – and to even set up a funny bit about YouTube comments.
The series has perfected the art of the sudden, shocking thing happening during a seemingly quiet moment, which continues here. As Jesse’s journey continues, we get some suitably creepy things going on. The special effects are also featured a little more here than the other series but with the low budget the effects add to the jumps.
The movie does have its weak moments of course. The movie suffers from what almost all found footage movies do, the dialogue. In this movie it’s mostly the last half of the movie when Hector starts to notice Jesse acting differently. His pleas for Jesse to open up and tell him what’s wrong seems a bit forced but considering everybody’s problem with found footage movies is WHY THE HELL ARE THEY STILL RECORDING? I think the dialogue is the last thing on people’s mind. But with that said, the movie adds in that sense of realism between the main characters so when that kind of stuff happens, you can almost forgive it.
Now, what did I mean when I said Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones is being described as a “spinoff” of Paranormal Activity series and is somewhat true? Well, when Jesse and his friends go into the dead woman’s apartment they discover VHS tapes marked “Katie and Kristi, 1988.” Also, there is a brief appearance from Paranormal Activity 2’s Ali (Molly Ephraim, also not a spoiler since she’s in the marketing), and there’s something else that everyone is talking about (hint: it’s the last act, which also really isn’t a spoiler since that’s starting to become part of the marketing too). But the biggest connection to the original series is the witch aspect.
The witch aspect is also bought out more here and extends the mythology and lore of the series that could be a good or bad thing. Depending on how they take the idea it should be interesting to see how fans of the series interpret the ending.
All in all, fans or non fans of the Paranormal Activity series should have a lot of fun with The Marked Ones. There is a lot of jump scares that the series in known and famous for and it creepy when it needs to be. The series also gets a bit of a shot-in-the-arm, so let’s hope that Paranormal Activity 5 can continue the momentum.
Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones
3.5 out of 5
P.S: For those wondering if it’s better than Paranormal Activity 4, the answer is yes.