After Paranormal Activity 4, I figured the franchise was over. That film really screwed up everything the first three established and it was a waste of time. But given that I’m in the business of saving horror, I trudged out to the theater to see the latest installment, The Marked Ones. Part 4 suggested a direction the series would take, but it did it terribly and in a confusing way. It left us with tons of questions and not in a good way. The Marked Ones continues to take the franchise in this new direction, but it clears up (most) of the questions and provides a much more fluid story. Said to be a spin-off, rather than a direct sequel, I'm interested to see where this story will go.
The Marked Ones takes place in a Latino community in California and revolves around Jesse, an 18-year-old with a best friend and a creepy neighbor. Jesse and Hector see and hear odd things coming from the neighbor’s house and because of Jesse’s graduation gift, the audience can too. Told using a Go Pro camera they take everywhere, this installment lets the audience in on the real story. Turns out the coven of witches from the previous film “marked” the first born sons of certain families; when these boys turn 18 they are possessed by a demon. The film suggests a complex future plot centering around the reason for marking these boys, but that’s for another film.
I liked this film exponentially more than the fourth because it told a great story and provided the typical Paranormal Activity scares. The characters in this film are very interesting and easy to identify with. I still wish the simple plot of the first movie extended through all of the sequels, but if they’re determined to make this story bigger than at least they did a better job this time in developing and explaining it. As suspected, the franchise is running out of ways to utilize the camera, opting just to strap it to the characters this time and have it go everywhere. I personally liked the camera better in previous films, mostly because this method made me a little queasy. But also because the other routes were more creative. All that being said, it may not have the simple beauty of the original, but The Marked Ones put the franchise back on a track - maybe not the right one - but a track. This movie was intriguing, jumpy as hell at times and definitely creepy. It wasn’t as scary as the first ones, but it was creepy.
Worth mentioning is the ending of this movie. Each of the first three films had a “What the hell?!?” ending that knocked the audience off their chairs. This movie didn’t have the same kind of shocking ending in that it wasn’t as simple, just like the plot. This ending was a more complex “What the hell?!?” that left me puzzling the direction this franchise is taking. It left me questioning things I already thought to be true, which is pretty awesome. And if you're a fan of the first three, I think you'll love this ending.
It remains to be seen whether or not the inevitable next film will destroy this franchise or sustain it, but I greatly enjoyed The Marked Ones. It brought back some of the things I loved from the first three and trashed the weak stuff the fourth one brought to the table. Don’t give up on this demon just yet… I think horror island has yet to see its full potential.
If you liked Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones, you might also like Paranormal Activity, Paranormal Activity 2 and Paranormal Activity 3.