There was a point during Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones when I felt that I didn’t need to write a review for it. It would have have been much easier to just take the review I had written for Paranormal Activity 4 and changed the characters names. It’s a tad lazy on my part though so apologies if this review feels familiar, because the film sure did.
The film is set in June 2012 and takes place after the events of Paranormal Activity 4. Jess (Andrew Jacobs) has recently graduated high school and couldn’t be happier. He acquires a video camera which he uses to film his friend Hector (Jorge Diaz) performing inane Jackass style stunts. When his creepy witch like neighbour Anna (Gloria Sandoval) is killed by an old school friend Oscar (Carols Pratts), Jesse and Hector feel it’s a great idea to investigate the murder scene and film themselves trespassing in the process. The next morning when Jesse wakes up he finds a strange bite mark on his arm and that he has superpowers. He soon realises that his X-men evolution is not a gift, but in fact a curse.
The majority of the first act is paced well. The story hurtles along with the promise that something scary is going to happen sooner rather than later. Unfortunately it doesn’t. The same tricks used here have been done to death already in this franchise and get watered down more and more with every instalment. Tension often builds for the reveal to be a character jumping out as a prank. It’s tedious and predictable and quite frankly boring.
The two leads have great comic timing and are wasted in this film. Diaz especially is easy to like and often provides laughs before things get too serious. Don’t get me wrong, I like a bit of humour in my horror films but there is a time and a place. I’m not fond of people that laugh at moments that are supposed to be scary, I often find this a defence mechanism in cinema goers. Some of the scenes here however are so farcical they invite the audience to do just that. None more so than in the third act. One particular scene is shot well and visual effects are to be praised. When the dust settles however, you realise just how preposterous and overblown it is. Much like a script that for some bizarre reason promotes time travel as theme. You can’t even see the shark for how far they’ve jumped.
Apparently Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones isn’t a sequel but a spinoff. I’m unsure as to what the difference is in this case aside from the title not having a 5 in it. The story is a clear continuation from the rest of the series and features recurring characters. Time Entertainment report that having the focus put on the Latino community, as opposed to the tried and tested middle-class white families we’ve been subjected to, was a smart move by the filmmakers to cash-in on Latino moviegoers. Does this constitute a spinoff, making the main characters non-white? I’m not really sure. What I am sure of however is this is yet another terrible entry to a franchise that just won’t stop generating money. With Paranormal Activity 5 set for a release this October, don’t expect this cash cow to dry up anytime soon.