Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones – Film Review
I should preface this review by admitting I didn’t see the entire movie.
I only went to see it because I needed to kill some time, and I missed the first 5-10 minutes (I came in at the point where the boys were using that hidden camera to spy on that naked chick).
But it’s a Paranormal Activity movie, so as long as I started at any point within the first 40 minutes, I wouldn’t miss much.
TL;DR Actually pretty good, PA:TMO is a refreshing break from the stale formula of its franchise. Time travel is pushing it a bit, but the jump scares are good, the characters are sympathetic, and witches be witchin’. I was impressed. 3 out of 5 stars.
There’s also lots of rapid fire Spanish, which is like angry, angry music to my ears.
So Wikipedia tells me that the plot is set in 2012. Our main characters this time are lower class youths Jesse, Hector (who does most of the filming), and Marisol. They live in an apartment complex where a neighbouring old bag is believed to be a witch. These beliefs appear to be true when she is killed by Oscar, a boy who claimed she did spells on him and was trying to induct him into being a possessed soldier for an evil coven. Oscar kills himself, and Jesse and co investigate the witch’s apartment, where things are creepy and fucked up. Jesse begins suffering the same possession symptoms as Oscar. Hector and Marisol go to Ali, the daughter from Paranormal Activity 2, for advice, and she points them in the direction of grandma Lois’ house from Paranormal Activity 3. Hector and Marisol bring Oscar’s gangster brother along to raid the witch base, but are attacked. Everyone dies except Hector, who flees through a magic door, bringing him to Katie and Micah’s house on the night of Micah’s death in 2006. Hector is then killed by a fully possessed Jesse. Exeunt.
So every film gets a nod except 4? Telling.
While I do applaud PA:TMO for somehow being decent, despite being both a 5th entry in a horror franchise and also a spin-off, it’s still the bare minimum as far as a satisfying horror movie.
The scares are sparse, the characters are hollow, the found footage style is as frustrating as ever, and the ending is another incomplete disappointment.
So, for Paranormal Activity, the usual.
Why I hate this movie:
If the continuity nods weren’t there, PA:TMO would be a pretty dull affair. Much like 4 before it, it all just seems like a build up to an upcoming, more complete movie. 4 didn’t end up delivering that. Will PA:TMO?
The lack of consistent scares is frustrating. Up until the very well done climax, there’s not much going on. Now that we’re in instalment number 5, I don’t want to see yet another group of people slowly discovering the demon around them. PA:TMO deviated a lot from the Paranormal Activity formula, but I wish it had ditched this aspect, too.
Arturo, Oscar’s brother, is apparently a hardcore gangster. You’d think he’d have some qualms about his brother’s acquaintances waltzing through his house and filming things.
You’d think he’d have an even bigger problem with them filming him and his gangster buddy brandishing firearms and breaking into someone’s house.
The time travel is a bit much to swallow. Yes, I’m happy to accept demons and possessions and even little ghostly apparitions of young Katie and Kristi. But magic time travel doors are maybe a step too far?
Did the police inspect Anna’s (the witch) trap door? It’s not like it was particularly hidden. You’d think if she had photos of the boy who killed her, and also photos of another boy who lives closeby, they might have said something to that second boy, no?
Jesse tortures the chihuahua. Not cool, bro.
Marisol didn’t really do anything. Her only purpose seemed to be to translate the Spanish dialogue for Hector (and therefore, us). Unsurprisingly, her death is arbitrary and dumb.
Hector really should have just run out the front door when he wound up in Katie and Micah’s house. You know, instead of trying to talk to the woman whose home he just invaded. And also the door that he just arrived through is still a few steps away, and Jesse seemed pretty determined to catch up. Silly Hector.
Oh, and Jesse attacks his grandma off screen. What the hell? At least show us.
But it’s not all bad:
The time travel/crazy magic stuff could turn out to be a lot of fun if the sequels really run with it. Given that this is a spin-off, however, I’m not gonna get my hopes up. But I’ll look out for it in the next one.
The best thing PA:TMO does is break away from the plodding, old formula of films 1-4. The whole “Night 1,2,etc” thing really dragged down the pace, and I didn’t miss it. And I was beyond sick to death of seeing stationary cameras recording tiny bumps in the night while people sleep. PA:TMO is much more action oriented.
Speaking of action oriented, giving the main character some demon-assisted superpowers was cute. It made sure to stop short of veering into Chronicle territory, but it was pretty cool having the demon on the good guys’ side for once (if only temporarily). It defends Jesse from a pair of thugs who beat him up. And it prevents him from harming himself, which he demonstrates by trying to throw himself backwards onto the ground. Who knew demons were good at trust falls?
Hector tries to do the trust fall, too, but he is not so lucky. I lol’d.
Jesse, Hector, and Marisol communicate with the demon through a possessed Simon unit. It’s kind of brilliant.
Arturo shoots some witches the fuck up in the climax. Good.
Ali is mostly just a Basil Exposition, but I personally had always wondered what happened to her after 2. Her knowledge of the witches is pretty ridiculously accurate and specific (she knows where the house is where Jesse is being taken for his ritual), so maybe she was actually assisting the witches?
The return to the climax of the first Paranormal Activity is fuckin’ cool. Hector arrives during the end scene where Katie screams and Micah runs downstairs, where she kills him. Micah goes to attack Hector (thinking he’s an intruder), but Katie carves him up. Then Jesse pops out of the magic door, demon face flared, and puts Hector to bed. Scary.
There’s a random chick locked in a cage/stable at the witch base that screams for our heroes to help her before the witches show up and they have to run. I want to know more.
Oh, and as far as I can tell, the dog survived. Woohoo.
It’s sure as hell better than another horror franchise 5th instalment I’ve come across. It’s short, it gets to the point, and it’s a jewel for continuity sticklers like myself. It’s pretty bare bones in all the other departments, but you should have known that already. 3 out of 5 stars.