Theatrical Review: PARANORMAL ACTIVITY: THE MARKED ONES (2014) [Paramount Pictures]

Paranormal-Activity-The-Marked-Ones-PosterI will say on Thursday evening, upon walking into a packed theater for an advanced press screening of PARANORMAL ACTIVITY: THE MARKED ONES, I didn’t expect much. For every iteration after the first was nothing but a copy, of a copy, of a copy. Paranormal Activity 4 changed one or two things around; yet mostly I found the lead annoying. The final scene of that film might have redeemed it if the rest wasn’t so wretched, as she ventures into the house across the street, unequivocal eeriness. The countless people in the backyard approaching her like expressionless characters in a disturbing David Lynch flick intrigued me so. Yet none had possessed what the first captured so well. It seems as the producers have finally realised this.

Let me start by saying THE MARKED ONES is funny, truly fucking funny. The audience didn’t want to laugh at first, small chuckles held tightly under their breath, but after the third of fourth justly clever gag, they were almost at the point of cheering, and by the end, they were. I was reminded of the Evil Dead screening in this regard. All the while that the hilarity is happening, you are hooked into actually feeling something for these characters, their lives, and their well-being, a trick never played in the franchise prior.

Jesse (Andrew Jacobs) is a quite boy from a Hispanic neighborhood in East LA, newly graduated from high school, and loved by the small community he’s a part of. He receives a new HD Digital video camera as a graduation present and it’s not long before Jesse and his friend Hector (Jorge Diaz) are up to Jackass style antics. This leads to the two spying on a downstairs neighbor that appears to take part in the only kind of wickedness a “bruja” (witch) would. What happens next is a bit of paranormal activity that will lead to damnation of everyone Jesse loves.

After astute anecdotes for nearly half of the film subside, the terror begins. The latter slice of the film is ridden with enough startles and jump scares to send virtually everyone in the theatre off their seat at least once; I didn’t but the girl I brought with me did, EVERY time. For me, I enjoy mood rather than cheap scares and with this picture, we have that as well.

Something ingenious I found, was at various points in the film, an old “Simon Says” toy is brought into play. At first, they just want to relive nostalgia, but it is soon found out that Jesse can ask questions of it, green meaning yes and red meaning no. A Ouija board substitute device to confirm that there certainly is a guardian demon over his shoulder, and not an angel, of which at one point he asks, crafty.

There is still the issue with most found footage films, where the moviegoer begins to question why these characters are still filming when terror is surrounding them. THE MARKED ONES does a decent job of masking this, but some cracks still show through, as they ditch a bike in an early scene when it’s no longer of use to bring but somehow have the gall to point a camera with trembling hands and spirit.

Another aspect of THE MARKED ONES that I thoroughly enjoyed was that it connected every film in the franchise brilliantly and added a plethora to the ambiguous mythos that the Christopher Landon (writer) has amassed for the sequels. A seemingly unconnected universe is now as if it was all happening in the same vast backyard. See space and time travel paradoxes for further details.

In closing, if you’re a fan of the series, have started to wane off, or just looking for a scary good time, go get marked by the bite of the demon as soon as you possibly can. Moreover, do not fear, as I can safely say, not one character is dragged out of frame.

 

PARANORMAL ACTIVITY: THE MARKED ONES (2014)

Director – Christopher Landon

Writer – Christopher Landon

Cast – Andrew Jacobs, Jorge Diaz, Gabrielle Walsh, Renee Victor

MPAA Rating – Rated R

84 Minutes

Release Date – January 3rd of 2014

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