“Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones” Review

The original Paranormal Activity (2009) was a surprise hit. Directed by Oren Peli, it was shot for $15,000 and grossed 193 million worldwide, making it the most profitable movie of all time – based on return on investment (not including marketing costs, of course). The film premiered at 2007’s Screamfest Horror Film Festival, and was shown at 2008’s Slamdance Film Festival. Although it was rejected from Sundance, Paramont acquired the rights and set out to make a remake with Peli directing. However, after a test screening, the studio decided to just release the film with a few minor changes. The limited release was a huge success, and with the help of a viral internet marketing campaign, Paranormal Activity got a wide release, even beating out Saw VI (2009) at the box office. Paranormal Activity actually got relatively good reviews, and even got an Indie Spirit Award nod – for “best first feature.” Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones (2014) has nothing to do with that movie. Other than the name, small references, and an impossible tie-in at the end, Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones doesn’t have much to do with the rest of the series. The early January horror flick slot is generally a successful one, and producers were likely trying to gain back some momentum lost by Paranormal Activity 4 (2012). However, Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones had to settle for 2nd place at the box office – losing to Frozen (2013).

There’s really just not a lot going on in this film. The plot centers around Jesse (The film debut for Andrew Jacobs), a recent high school graduate who becomes possessed after his 18th birthday (Why his 18th birthday? Well, 6 + 6 + 6 = 18. Get it? No? Well shhhhh it makes sense because one of the characters in the film said that was the reason.). After making this discovery, the rest of the film is spent with his friend Hector (Jorge Diaz) screaming “JESSE?” while Jesse does strange things. The Paranormal Activity series has historically had improvised dialogue, and I can’t help but feel that Diaz was just handed a camera and told to go for it, but all he could come up with was saying “JESSE!” over and over again; that name is a large portion of this movie’s dialogue.

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones‘ biggest failure though, is that it’s not scary. I guess maybe I’m just not scared by this subgenre, but most off the scares seemed poorly executed, even for what they were. There are a few scenes that feel like they were inspired – including one when they use a Simongame as an Ouija Board – but they are few and far between. The ending climatic sequence was more laughable than frightening.

Overall, this movie is just a waste of time. You’ve seen it done before, and you’ve seen it done better. It’s not gonna be the worst movie of this year, probably not even of this month, but you don’t need to see it. 3/10.        

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