Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones Movie Review
Written by Becky Roberts
DVD released by Paramount Home Entertainment
Written and Directed by Christopher Landon
2014, 84 minutes, Rated 15 (UK)
Released on 28th April 2014 (VOD) 12th May 2014 (DVD & Blu-ray)
Katie Featherston as Katie
Molly Ephraim as Ali
Andrew Jacobs as Jesse
Jorge Diaz as Hector
Catherine Toribilo as Penelope
We've all seen – or at least heard of – Paranormal Activity. The film franchise has fuelled the found footage subgenre for several years, and The Marked Ones is the fifth in the series – a spin-off of the previous four, if you like. The handheld-camera-doc style has been worn to the bone in horror, but whether you love it or hate it, this movie is worth a watch.
When teen friends Jesse, Hector and Molly start looking into the recent and unexplained death of their neighbour, Jesse begins encountering strange and disturbing phenomena. Harmless and playful, the trio dismisses it as a bit of fun at first. But when Jesse's behaviour turns uncontrollably sinister and they learn he's been marked for possession since birth, it's up to Hector and Molly to break the curse and free his friend before he kills.
It's not wholly dissimilar from the original films: the meddling teens investigate supernatural happenings and record everything they experience. What you do get though is heaps more action (goodbye static cameras in corners of rooms) and a plot with a more interesting, unpredictable path. The nature of 'The Marked Ones' curse and the amount of insight you get through the eyes of the ignorant friends means you don't always know exactly what's going on – but that adds to its interest and makes for a satisfyingly shock – if not somewhat ambiguous – ending. It certainly keeps you guessing, which is more than can be said for a lot of the Paranormal Activity films.
The characters toying around with the sub-human stunts Jesse can suddenly perform, and then gradually realising their dangerous, consuming potential darkens the tone of the film as it progresses, and interestingly integrates the supernatural into everyday environments. Performances generally surpass expectations too, Andrew Jacobs as Jesse especially convincing while in and out of his possession.
It's up to its neck in clichés, sure, but at times it's genuinely scary. And without trying too hard, either. Hands grab people below trap doors, disfigured figures stagger around corners, and people blast through the air with, actually, not-so-shabby effects. Overly shaky cameras as they pelt through houses in terror can be frustrating at times, though.
If you hate the previous four films, this probably won't be your cup of tea. After all, they can only be treated with a certain amount of credibility, and their style definitely has an understandably 'Marmite' following. But otherwise, this isn't a bad found-footage flick and certainly one of the better of the franchise so far. I say 'so far' because let's be honest, I can't ever see it ending.