Friday, 31 January 2014

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones: Movie Review

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones: Movie Review

Cast: Andrew Jacobs, Jorge Diaz
Director: Christopher B Landon

So, here we go with a kind of spin off to the Paranormal Activity series, but one which has ties to the original franchise in ways you could never foresee.

It's 2012, and The Marked Ones opens with the high school graduation of Jesse, an 18 year old Latina student (played by Andrew Jacobs) about to embark on the summer break. Along with his friend Hector (Jorge Diaz) the duo amuse themselves filming each other doing Jackass-style stunts and following the spooky escapades of the witch who apparently lives in the basement flat of their block.

But when she's shot dead by another of Jesse's fellow students, the pair start investigating - and that's when things take a turn for the spooky as Jesse's whole demeanour starts to change.

Initially Jesse gains super-powers as he can throw people around and do gravity defying things, but soon the darkness is all-encompassing and Hector races to save his friend from a long time curse and a very familiar coven of witches....

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones is a distraction from the series and franchise, rather than an advancement of the mythology that's built up around Katie (Katie Featherston) and in the previous films. Though, that said, there are subtle nods to what's gone on, as well as the ongoing mythology.

Mixing in touches of Chronicle (teen gets new powers and revels in them before abusing them), a riff on the Exorcist - involving actual eggs (Eggs-orcist anyone?) and throwing in some of the usual jolts, as well as a psychic (and vaguely psychotic) Simon Says, there are a few clever touches thrown in here and there. But after the initial teen edge is dispensed (Kids chasing girls, doing pranks etc), the film settles into the usual routine of drawing out scenes, ramping up the soundtrack before the scare punchline. Some are effective bursts and give the edge that's needed whereas others are unoriginal and expected.

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones also suffers from a slightly muddier edge with time portals being thrown into the mix (and uncertainty over how they affect the ongoing story arc) and the found footage format ever so slightly creaks in places as Hector keeps the camera on all the time. Plus, at the end when they end up inside the house rather than running away, you find yourself shouting at the behaviour of the protagonists.

A couple of drip fed hints and allusions here and there to the mythology aren't really enough to sustain the interest in the Marked Ones and while there was a Japanese version of the film way back, you can see why the makers looked to extend the series in some ways.

Here's hoping that the upcoming Paranormal Activity 5 starring Katie Featherston will prove a satisfying end to the series, because the pay off now really needs to come before lovers of Oren Peli's original Paranormal Activity question their own loyalty.


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