Oct 27, 2014

Review: Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones (2014)

I still can't believe how disappointing Paranormal Activity 4 was. All the same, I'm kind of anxious to see if Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones can right the ship. I think that's just me getting greedy from how well the second and third sequels worked out. I mean a decline was bound to happen at one point. Law of diminishing returns right?

In all, Paranormal Activity is a horror franchise that's somehow been able to stave off the usual decline in quality for sequels. Maybe the makers had made a deal with a demon or something? With movie number 4, it would appear that the deal has gone south. PA:TMO isn't a straight up sequel, but more of a spin-off that tries to clear the air before Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension comes out in 2015 which I believe will be a direct sequel to PA4.

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Genre: horror, thriller
Directed by: Christopher Landon
Produced by: Jason Blum, Oren Peli, Steven Schneider, etc.
Written by: Christopher Landon
Music by: N/A
Running time: 84 minutes
Production company: Paramount Pictures, Blumhouse Productions, Solana Films, etc.
Distributed by: Paramount Pictures, Central Partnership, United International Pictures, etc.
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: $5,000,000
Box office: $90,894,962 (Worldwide)

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Andrew Jacobs, Jorge Diaz, Gabrielle Walsh, Renee Victor, Noemi Gonzalez, David Saucedo, Gloria Sandoval, Richard Cabral, Carlos Pratts, Juan Vasquez, Alonso Alvarez
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Synopsis


In Oxnard, California, Jesse (Andrew Jacobs) graduates from high school. He lives in an apartment with his father (David Saucedo) and his grandmother (Renee Victor). Right below him is Ana (Gloria Sandoval) who is rumoured to be a witch. She's found murdered one night which makes her apartment an interesting place to explore for Jesse along with his friend Hector (Jorge Diaz). Finding a book about demons and spells, they take things further with a visit to a church in the dead of night where try to summon a demon.

Review


Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones takes things in a pretty different direction for the franchise. There is a lot of humour going on to start things off which I suppose is meant to serve as a means of making you let your guard down. It's not really a mission accomplished in that sense, but some of the jokes are kind of funny.

The problem in my opinion is that the jokes don't stop when they should've. The sense of build up is lost because the characters all seem to be having too much of a good time even though messed up stuff starts happening. With a different setting and setup, what could've been a tense atmosphere is pretty much evaporated before we get to the midpoint of this one just because of the characters being stupid and not realizing the danger that they're in. It takes way too long for them to make the easy connections.

In terms of the found footage format, there's no more of that setting up cameras around the house to capture anything weird. It's usually always footage from either Jesse or his friend Hector. It's relatively natural but it's not perfect. Like for example, you have to wonder why Hector keeps filming while Jesse is being beat up by two thugs. There are also a couple of moments where it's clear that what's become a Paranormal Activity trope or a trope of found footage in general is about to happen.

There's definitely some fatigue here when it comes to crafting some genuine scares. We've seen a lot of what happens in PA:TMO before and the characters being all funny ruins the effect of quite a few things. For example, I really like the inclusion of the board game Simon which is an electronic memory game where you repeat the pattern by pressing the correct buttons. The characters not taking it seriously when they clearly should have just really aggravated me because it could've been an effective tool.

I will say thought that there are a handful of good scares. (Spoilers) That would include early on in the bathroom of the church scene where our dimwits go to summon a demon as well as scene in the basement of Ana's apartment when Jesse goes over after hearing his dog whimpering. (End Spoilers) Those few good moments are punctured with lame jump scares and predictability. There also seem to be more special effects than previous movies that don't really contribute anything positive.

In terms of the story in general, it ties in a lot more to the previous movies than I expected. It all fits together not too badly, but there do seem to be some points that are inconsistent. The mystery of the first and best movie is also robbed. Christopher Landon who has been involved in writing the Paranormal Activity movies since the second one is probably the most suited for unifying all the movies, but a lot of what's done in PA:TMO is purely fan service if you ask me. 

What I'll say about Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones is that it's a very slight improvement over Paranormal Activity 4. I'm not a fan of the tone though and I'm not overly impressed with the characters who seem just a little too conveniently stupid to not realize what's going on until it's too late. Besides a couple of tense moments, scares are either predictable or not effective in the least. Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension is going to have to take a giant leap forward to combat the decreasing box office returns since PA4

Rating


5/10