I haven’t watched a Paranormal Activity since the first 2 both of which were enjoyable but lacked a lot of what I enjoy in horror. I stayed away from the next 2 movies because I got tired of jump scares. For me, a movie made up of jump scares is lazy & it gets extremely tiresome.
The current trend in horror seems to be ghostly-goings-on & possessions. Combine that with the found-footage fad of a few years back & that is Paranormal Activity in a nutshell. What was smart & genuinely creepy has become a parody of itself which can be seen by its online user & critic ratings.
That being said there is something compelling about wanting to be scared & that is why I wandered back towards the Paranormal Activity light & settled down to watch The Marked Ones.
I shouldn’t have bothered.
So the story is set in a small Hispanic community surrounding a bustling apartment complex. Jesse & Hector are best friends having recently graduated & spend their days messing around with a video camera they recently bought. It is with this camera they chose to spy on their downstairs neighbour Anna who is a bit of reclusive & suspected of being a witch. After hearing moans & screams one evening they lower the camera down through a vent to the apartment below & see naked Anna painting symbols across another naked girl’s body. Fearing being caught they pull the camera up & later that night Anna is murdered by another student from their school, Oscar who is seen fleeing the scene.
The 2 boys explore Anna’s apartment & discover symbols on the walls, black magic spells, a photo of Jesse & video tapes that link into the earlier movies. They also read about doorways through time that you can step into evil & unholy locations. So naturally they decide to try this out with a friend, Marisol.
After some spooky goings-on they go home. The next day Jesse finds a bite-mark on his arm & his lovable dog reacts differently to him. After fighting off 2 thugs he begins to believe he has super-human abilities & is being protected.
However as his personality changes & he gets more violent his friends realise that something is seriously wrong & that if he doesn’t get help soon it may be too late for all of them.
If you’ve seen any of the Paranormal Activity movies before you know how this ends already…
It’s a frustrating watch because there are moments of creepiness that really impress early on before the latter half of the movie forgets subtly & tries to beat you over the head with it’s ‘jump scares’.
It’s mostly well-acted & the relationship between Jesse & Hector is believable & sincere. The first real mis-step comes with the camera down the vent scene that foolishly distracts you with full-frontal nudity. Forget the sinister & creepiness of the symbol being painted on her body…here are tits!
For every moment (the church/toilet section) that has tension & expectation there are 2 or 3 that just let you down with just how obvious they are & how in your face they are. What happened to the subtly of these movies? What happened to the slow build leading to a payoff? Instead what we have here is Jesse pulling black thread out of his eyes, throwing thugs around like superman & torturing dogs in broad daylight.
By time you reach the climax we have witches being killed with shotguns & a chase through a house that just ends in one of the most unnecessary tie-ins. Oh & lets not forget full demonic stuff…
As you can tell I was really let down by this movie, I wanted to be creeped out, I wanted to suspend reality for an hour & a half & just roll with the scares but I couldn’t. At no stage in the movie does it offer an explanation as to why they continue to film everything. The final 10 involve a pretty hectic chase & constant jump scare section that sees someone making sure they film every little thing. Even worse in this pitch dark house he keeps the light on all the time resulting in his location being blindingly obvious!
It is terrible & a level of stupidity I haven’t seen since Cloverfield. People just wouldn’t act in this way…don’t believe me? At the end while trying to rescue Jesse they bring 2 thugs who are armed with a shotgun & machine gun. They go there with the intention to kill some witches & at no stage does anyone suggest that we shouldn’t film this as it is pretty dead-on evidence for the police should our planned bloodbath get back to them.
That is a facepalm moment…
A shocking let-down & I can’t believe what the series has become. It is so ‘in your face’ now & its level of predictability is no longer fun. The minor connections to earlier movies might please long-running fans but for those who just want a quick scare, they should look elsewhere. Unless of course, you love lots of jump-scares…
Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones