REVIEW: PARANORMAL ACTIVITY – THE MARKED ONES / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: CHRISTOPHER LANDON / SCREENPLAY: CHRISTOPHER LANDON / STARRING: JORGE DIAZ, ANDREW JACOBS, GABRIELLE WALSH, MOLLY EPHRAIM / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Like the Paranormal Activity franchise as a whole, the latest entry/sequel/spin-off, Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones, starts off as innovative and interesting before descending into painful repetition and unoriginality. For a franchise that started by making even watching the clock in the bottom corner of the screen (sped up overnight) look tense, it is a shame audiences will spend so much time staring at their watches during this fifth entry in the series.
The reason The Marked Ones stands out at first is that it has a pair of Latino characters who have great chemistry and come across as a likeable pair. Jesse and Hector live in a very ordinary apartment block and seem a thousand miles away from the boring and bickering middle class couples/families that have so far featured in the Paranormal Activity franchise. As usual, central character Hector has a new camera and is intent on filming his and Jesse’s every move, no matter how unbelievable this becomes.
It starts off well, with the pair investigating strange noises coming from the apartment below Jesse’s, and then there is a mysterious murder. Jesse and Hector are typical boys, reacting to the increasingly disturbing events in the manner you might expect young men to. They mess around with a GoPro-type camera (which could have been used to much greater potential) and decide to play Sherlock Holmes by dangling it into the below apartment.
Then things take a turn for the really weird as Jesse suddenly develops strange telekinetic powers, as though he has just escaped from found footage superhero flick Chronicle. The boys and their experiences with these new-found powers are far more interesting than the usual witches, symbols and going down in basements stuff that comes next. Despite the excellent half-glimpsed special effects that fans have become accustomed to, it all starts to flag as the comedic elements give way to formulaic scares, though the use of the old flashing light Simon memory retention game is a nice original touch.
The ending falls apart on a number of levels. It feels almost exactly the same as previous entries, particularly the last two, with only the far too brief promise of a witch vs shotgun face-off alleviating the sense that you have seen it all before. The old problem of having audiences expected to believe that the camera would not have been dropped a long time ago rears its familiar ugly head and then writer Christopher Landon tries to make it all clever by having the final scene come full circle and take us back to the beginning of the franchise.
It is a shame as the use of two likeable characters from a different background to the usual horror movie clichés showed real promise. Mark this one down as a frustratingly missed opportunity.
Extras: Deleted scenes