2 1/2 StarsI was all set to really dislike the fifth entry in the long-tired Paranormal Activity franchise. The first film in the series was a jolt of scares and ingenuity, making the Saw franchise look ugly and unsavory in the process. Over the course of the next five years three official sequels have materialized each with diminishing results from a creative and box-office stand point. More money has been lost by producers trying to replicate the success of that original entry, than PA1 ever earned. Now, comes the spin-off Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones and I’m must admit that it is the strongest movie in the series since the first film.
This newest chapter casts aside the monotonous single house setting that quickly became tiresome in the pervious sequels. Using the GoPro camera lets the characters in this story wander more freely. Instead of security camera footage this is like a YouTube video. Fronted by the extremely likable leads Andrew Jacobs and Jorge Diaz, these two banter and swagger their way through the outlandish and perfunctory story turns. The pair’s chemistry makes their tangle with unholy spirits and a teenage murder all the more interesting.
Jessie is the first born son in a Mexican-American family. The unit lives in Oxnard, Ca together in a cramped apartment nestled within a close-knit complex. Living directly underneath Jesse’s family is Ana, a portly woman with a mean attitude that is spoken about in hushed tones by the neighbors. One night strange sounds begin to emanate up through a vent that link’s Ana’s dwelling to Jesse’s bedroom. He and his best friend Hector rig a camera system to spy on the rumored witch below.
Things start to spiral when the valedictorian of Jesse’s graduating class kills Ana and then himself, not before professing a demonic possession. The scene in which the boy throws himself off a church steeple and comes crashing through the roof of a car is the film’s biggest jump. Before long Jesse has begun communicating with a spirit, in a nice touch the Ouija board is out and this ghost uses the 1980’s staple Simon.
Even though I do think this is the best since the first, I can’t recommend Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones. The scares are set up so far in advance that most of the time we are waiting for the filmmakers to get to the pay-off and even those are fumbled. However, the hispanic-themed setting and the easy chemistry of the actors makes for an acceptable experience, but really the thrill is long gone here folks.
Director: Christopher B. Landon
Stars: Andrew Jacobs, Jorge Diaz, Gabrielle Walsh