You’re one of us now.
Directed by Christopher Landon
Reviewed by Deep Red
Stars Andrew Jacobs as Jesse Arista, Jorge Diaz as Hector Estrella, Gabrielle Walsh as Marisol Vargas, Renee Victor as Irma Arista, Noemi Gonzalez as Evette Arista, David Saucedo as Cesar Arista, Gloria Sandoval as Ana Sanchez, Richard Cabral as Arturo Lopez, Carlos Pratts as Oscar Lopez, Juan Vasquez as Santo, Alonso Alvarez as Eber, Catherine Toribio as Penelope, Molly Ephraim as Ali Ray, Chloe Csengery as Young Katie and Jessica Tyler Brown as Young Kristi.
Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones is the sixth Paranormal Activity film, if you count Paranormal Activity 2: Tokyo Night (2010). I’m a big fan of them myself, and of found-footage films in general, so I’d been looking forward to this for quite a while. I wasn’t disappointed. The Blu-ray has both the theatrical and extended versions on it; the extended version is almost 17 minutes longer and that’s the one I chose to watch first.
Like Tokyo Night this is a spin-off and the official fifth instalment, Paranormal Activity 5 (2014), is out in October. In time for Halloween!
Jesse lives with his father, Cesar, and his grandmother, Irma. When a neighbour, Ana, a suspected witch, is murdered, Jesse and his friend Hector break into her apartment, just to check it out really. They find a strange journal which they take with them when they are interrupted by a guy called Arturo, who also happens to be in the apartment, and he orders them to leave. Arturo is the brother of a guy called Oscar who is under suspicion for Ana’s murder. They break into a church too and perform a ritual from the journal with their friend Marisol and the next morning Jesse finds out that he has a strange bite mark on his arm. I was surprised to learn that the whole breaking into the church and performing the ritual scene is only in the extended version as I thought it was a great scene that fits the story really well.
I’m not going to say anything else about what happens in the film, as a fan I wouldn’t want to know and there are plenty of spoilers out there if that’s your thing.
As with all the Paranormal Activity films you never know when or what is going to happen next but you know you’re guaranteed plenty of jump scares so the tension is high throughout. There’s also the continuing story to immerse yourself in and that’s one reason I like this one so much, yes it’s a spin-off but every film has been about different people when you think about it so it essentially feels like another great sequel. All the things I’ve come to love about the Paranormal Activity films since I was first terrified by the first one are in this one; the found-footage style, the uneasy tension, the jump scares, the cool ending. This one probably has the best ending of all but I won’t spoil it.
Andrew Jacobs as Jesse makes an interesting protagonist here and he’s supported by a fine cast of individuals, not one weak performance in the whole film. I thought the extended version flew by and was over much too quickly even at 100 minutes so there’s no problem with pacing as far as I’m concerned. There are some cool special effects and there wasn’t a single moment when I thought, bad CGI. I think that’s pretty commendable in this day and age especially after watching Mama (2013) the other night, this series hasn’t yet fallen into the trap of overusing that stuff and I hope it never will.
I’ve been reading a lot of other reviews and I think they’re pretty mixed overall, there’s a lot of hate as usual but that’s to be expected I suppose, I just don’t get why the people who hate them keep going back for more, I mean, whether you count this as the fifth or sixth film, surely you’d be giving them a wide berth after at most three. If you don’t like them, don’t watch them. As a fan I think the filmmakers are doing a great job. Are they all about the money? I read that somewhere. Well, yes, I imagine so. I don’t live on that side of the filmmaking fence so I don’t care what their motivations are. If I did, I wouldn’t watch very many films. I certainly don’t care when I think a film delivers.
It’s not the worst franchise out there. It attracts a lot of attention, good and bad, and that surely isn’t doing the horror genre any harm. I just hope it doesn’t peter out like the Saw series did. I’m an ardent fan of the Saw films but Saw 7 (2010) was a slap in the face for me, I’m not even saying it was a bad film, it wasn’t, it just felt like the filmmakers had lost all interest in what made the Saw films so great and opted for an easy way of ending the series.
In conclusion I think we’d all like to see something totally original every time we sit down to watch a film for the first time but that’s just not realistic, it’s never been like that and never will be. At least the people making the Paranormal Activity films reimmerse you scrupulously into the same world you originally loved.