January 30, 2014
"Paranormal Activity" (PA) has been wielding its low-budget horror spell on movie audiences since 2007 when the first film came out. Employing mainly closed circuit TV and some hand-held camera footage, this film series had brought us the otherworldly experienced by one young Southern California woman named Katie and her immediate family members. So far, its writer Christopher Landon has spun a tale that begun simply enough with Oren Peli's original film, but later gained complexity with every episode.
This particular installment subtitled "The Marked Ones" not PA 5, which suggests that it is not exactly a sequel of the first four. It takes us into a Latino community in California, away from the main PA story line. We are introduced to totally new characters, Latino teenagers and best friends, Jesse and Hector, who just so happened to be carrying a hand-held camera which was constantly ON.
After their strange downstairs neighbor Ana dies mysteriously, Jesse began to manifest some strange superhuman abilities and irrationally violent behavior. His friend Hector and sister Mariflor try to find out what was behind these bizarre things Jesse was experiencing. This leads them to discover an evil beyond their expectations.
Aside from the new characters, "The Marked Ones" also departs from the CCTV style of the first films. This one hearkens more to the "Blair Witch Project" style with the very shaky hand-held camera work, which may cause vertigo for some viewers with all its rough bouncing and sudden spinning around.
It actually did not feel like a PA film at all because of all of this action going on with the characters. The original PA films did not have anything but anticipative tension during the first hour as the characters go through their mundane lives on camera, with only the slightest hints of horror becoming more and more malevolent with time (actually marked on screen with a running clock). It was not like this here. There is also a lot of funny moments. It initially felt like a cheap generic "found footage" horror flick.
But by the final thirty minutes, it does become exciting. But this is only if you are a fan of the Paranormal Activity franchise. Before this film reaches its conclusion, we are brought into details which touch on PA 1, 2 and 3, actually dovetailing into the main PA mythology about Katie. I actually loved this unexpected development, which for me saved the whole film from total mediocrity. However, for people who are not aware nor care about this continuing story, there will be nothing for them to get excited about at all. 5/10.