RELEASE DATE: 23rd January 2014
DIRECTOR: Christopher B. Landon
CAST: Andrew Jacobs, Richard Cabral, Gabrielle Walsh, Carlos Pratts
CLASSIFICATION: MA15+ (Strong Coarse Language and Supernatural Themes)
Review by Peter Gray
I’ve had a somewhat love/hate relationship with the ‘Paranormal Activty’ series since they began in 2007. The original was quite a fun, and at times thrilling, experiment in the found footage genre whilst the third entry managed to inject a much needed horror boost into proceedings following a disappointing sequel. 2012’s ‘Paranormal Activity 4’, widely considered the worst of the series, was indeed a pathetic cash-in that added next to nothing to the overall arc, and certainly brought about a cautiousness regarding furthering films.
Whilst ‘Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones’ is far from a worthy film, as far as this series goes it’s actually quite decent. Considered a “side-quel” (hence the reason it isn’t titled ‘Paranormal Activity 5’), ‘The Marked Ones’ seems to be targeting the Latino market with its primarily Spanish cast taking the focus away from the original family featured in the preceding films. Teenager Jesse (Andrew Jacobs) and his buddy Arturo (Richard Cabral) are the protagonists this time with the celebration of Jesse’s high school graduation kicking events off. Jesse appears to be a likeable enough guy, trying to live a life on the straight and narrow despite the gang-activities that plague his neighbourhood. A lot of the initial scenes between Jesse and Arturo are surprisingly (intentionally) funny as they banter off each other, try to pick up girls, and dote on Jesse’s grandmother, even going so far as to down tequila shots with her in one of their more amusing moments. Of course carrying a camera around for all of this makes no sense, especially towards the climax of the film, but where would these films be if logical thinking was a requirement?
Despite there being more laughs than one might expect in a found-footage horror film, ‘The Marked Ones’ does its best to scare its audience managing to avoid the recycled tactics of the series where people review a specific tape and simply ask “what’s that?”. The bumps and moans that take place in the darkness are still used to varied effect but when Jesse’s inevitable possession kicks in, the movie almost turns into a horror movie version of ‘Chronicle’ as he starts to enjoy the “perks” of being haunted. Initially enjoying bouts of super-strength, Jesse eventually starts to be taken over and it’s here the film is marked with a rather dark, violent touch, something relatively foreign to the series at this point. The final scene, though not particularly inspiring or even that scary, at least has a great deal of energy behind it, something that seemed lacking in the previous films.
If you’re a fan of the series ‘The Marked Ones’ is very much a no-brainer as it’s a nice enough rebound from the horrid fourth entry, but if you’ve never given the films much thought there’s nothing here of worth to change your mind. The unknown cast do better than one might expect, especially given the type of film they’re involved in, and there are some neat set pieces throughout but as the found footage gimmick continues to tire, ‘The Marked Ones’ doesn’t quite hold enough to restore faith in a series that seems to be dwindling in rapid succession.
My rating 2.5/5 (Gets marks for effort)