Saturday, 7 June 2014

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones

Another year, another Paranormal Activity film. Yawn.

When the original Paranormal Activity film was released in 2009, the buzz around it was quite impressive. Much like the classic horror The Blair Witch Project, Paranormal Activity spread through word of mouth. It cost a mere $15,000, and at the box office brought in a whopping $193,355,800. Needless to say, the film became a franchise with another 4 entries into the series so far. However after writing and directing the original film, series creator Oren Peli decided to take a back-seat, and has only produced the following films. I don't think anyone disagrees that Paranormal Activity was an interesting and well executed concept. The problem is everything that  came after it.  How does Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones stack up?

Directed by Christopher B. Landon and out now on Blu-Ray and DVD, comes Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones, the latest instalment in the Paranormal Activity franchise. The film, which takes a detour away from the paranormal suburbs, takes place in Oxnard, California and focuses on Jesse and Hector, two teenage boys who will be pulled into a world of witchcraft and... wait for it... Paranormal Activity! (Ahem. I'll get my coat...). After buying a camera the boys do what any self respecting creeps do - they spy on someone. This “someone” is Anna, a woman who lives in their apartment complex, but hey the invasion of privacy is fine, as they see Anna performing some weird rituals, all of which implies that, like the rumours suggest, that she is indeed a witch. Their pervy steak is cut short though as one day Anna is found dead. But in the wake of her death some unusual goings on start to crop up, most of which occur to Jesse. As his body starts to go through some kind of transformation, Jesse starts to gain almost superhero abilities. However, as the true nature behind these abilities begins to unfold, that is where The Marked Ones begins to tie itself into the previous films in the franchise.

The problem with The Marked Ones (and everything after Paranormal Activity) is that it's trying to expand its universe where it doesn't need to go. The original film was enjoyed because it was a simple concept, low-budget and interesting take on the horror genre. Like classic films such as The Exorcist and Poltergeist, it hit us where it scares us most: our homes, our “safe” and “secure” homes. It was lightening in a bottle, and every film in the series after Paranormal Activity is just failing to replicate its creepiness. From what began as a simple concept has been morphed into an ongoing plot line that I'd expect to turn up in the TV series Supernatural. No longer is it just an unseen ghost terrorising a family, but now the story is neck deep in shit like time travel, witches, spooky long haired girls and a cast of awful confused looking actors.

What's even more annoying is the fact that The Marked Ones literally just relies on jump scares. Like, that's the only card it has up its sleeve! From scenes of stuff just popping up in front of the camera, to the classic jump scare of turning the camera toward something jumping out, the Marked Ones is so generic and utterly bland that I almost fell asleep twice during it. Oh and that's not necessarily the actors' fault too. I'm sure they'd be good if they had something better to work with, but I kept feeling like they were moments away from saying something like, “Fuckin' witches, brah, amirite? #YOLO!” Ugh.

Ultimately, it has the same problem as the Saw series, in the fact that the first one was great, but they should have stopped there. Like Paranormal Activity, Saw milked the hell out its franchise until before no one gave a shit about it. It's sad to see but The Marked Ones is just another signpost on the road to doom for the Paranormal Activity franchise. Next stop, boredom coma! Choo-Choo!

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones curses the viewer with boredom and gets a 1/5.


Denis Murphy

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones CeX

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