The found footage genre has come a long way since The Blair Witch Project pioneered its use for horror films all those years ago. Since then it has been used in a wide range of film genres with varying success. One of the longest running franchises to use it is Paranormal Activity. Their latest film, The Marked Ones, proves that the franchise has continued out of pure stubbornness, even though they offer something slightly new this time around.
Jesse (Andrew Jacobs) is fresh out of high school and is ready to take on the world, armed with the camera he bought at a pawn shop. After investigating one of his friend’s death, he finds out that he has been marked for possession by a witch who lives in his apartment complex. We all struggle with our daily demons, but Jesse is battling a powerful one that wants to take over his body and soul. He chronicles his transition into beasthood, fighting the transformation every step of the way.
Writer of every Paranormal Activity sequel Christopher Landon steps out from behind the pages and takes the helm for the film. As director, he shows us he is competent enough to continue the style of found footage filmmaking that has been used in the films. Through some convoluted or vaguely explained reasoning, the main character is always carrying around a recording device of some sort. Even with the increased presence of social media and people photographing everything, the constant recording seems completely forced.
As a horror film, they carry a distinct responsibility to to be scary or incredibly thrilling. At the very least, it should be engaging or compelling. The Marked Ones doesn’t offer much in the scares department. Being the most recent film in a series of sequels have given us a sort of immunity to the scares they do have. We know them and we see them coming. The predictability is the real villain in this sequel because when you anticipate something it has already let you down. Since the original film, the art of misdirection is one that hasn’t been lost up until this point, making everything much more straightforward than it should be.
The film franchise succeeds by relying on unknown talent to give the films a sense of authenticity. It makes it feel much more grounded in reality, even if the story itself comes across as absurd. The most exciting aspect of this film is the clear deviation from the original story line. We are shown the side effects of the original, developing storyline, but enough of a change to offer a short reprieve. This time, we are given some much needed cultural scope, focusing on Mexican culture and folklore in an attempt to contextual what exactly is happening to the main character. Even with this refreshing change-up, Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones remains a reminder of a once great filming becoming a greatly disappointing franchise.
RATING: ★★★★ (4/10 stars)