After four movies, each declining in quality, Paranormal Activity has finally decided to try the spin-off route with Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones. For the first time in the series, we leave white suburbia to see how Mexican-Americans deal with demons, hauntings, and witch-related things. Of course, everything is captured by cameras, because recording someone’s whole life right as they notice weird stuff happening is a concept that makes sense and isn’t just a gimmick that has been used in almost every scenario imaginable.
It isn’t just the tired format of found footage that The Marked Ones manages to spread its filth all over, it also tries so hard to be Paranormal Activity: Chronicle Rip-Off as the story has now gone completely off the rails and barely manages to make a semblance of sense. The Paranormal Activity series has gone from being about a haunted house, to demon possession, to witches summoning demons for reasons, to this plot that not only ties into the series as a whole, but manages to muddle it even further in ways I won’t spoil – but wikipedia will.
I wish I could say that’s where the problems ended, but this is a movie series that, at this point, is tainted to its very core. The Paranormal Activity franchise has never been known for its fantastic acting, and while there’s nothing to complain about here, even something close to a good performance could have made this movie bearable. The Conjuring got by on performances and plot when the scares failed, but The Marked Ones can’t do any of that right. Not only is there nothing beyond the cheapest jump scares possible, but the one attempt at actually building suspense (it involves a mirror) is tarnished as the effect and shot last too long so that even the most simple minded person in the audience can see what is happening.
My only hope is that this franchise will either finally end or the brilliant minds over at RiffTrax will work their magic on the franchise so that some spec of entertainment value can be found while watching them. The Marked Ones would have been far better served if they had just abandoned the canon of the series entirely, making an entirely new story even if it was locked into the found-footage motif. Regardless, please do not pay money to see this movie in the theaters, lest we be subjected to four more.
With The Marked Ones, it seems that we can finally declare that the first Paranormal Activity was just lightning in a bottle. Every subsequent film has not only failed to live up to the already low standards of the first, but shown that each sequel will continue to do the same essential story while attempting to develop lore that fails to interest and make sense. While I didn’t enjoy the first Paranormal Activity at all, I could at least understood how some people could. However, I can’t comprehend how people could enjoy every sequel, The Marked Ones particularly, beyond the enjoyment you get from a YouTube video with a surprise screaming face.
In Theaters: January 3, 2014
Runtime: 84 min
Rating: Rated R for pervasive language, some violence, graphic nudity and some drug use
Director: Christopher Landon
Cast: Andrew Jacobs, Jorge Diaz, Gabrielle Walsh, Renee Victor, Noemi Gonzalez
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
Official Site: http://www.paranormalmovie.com/