Another year, another Paranormal Activity chapter! I can’t explain why this one isn’t called number 5 officially, though at time of this post, imdb lists Paranormal Activity 5 as being slated for release in October 2014. This installment absolutely loops in with the original films, and is a worthy addition to the franchise. My review after the jump.
Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones opens with handheld camera footage of Jesse graduating from high school, and celebrating the end of high school life. His family and friends are clearly proud, and throw a big party in his small apartment block. Jesse lives in a Hispanic apartment block that is clearly close-knit, well that’s except for that strange lady downstairs. Some in the block call her a ‘bruja’, or ‘witch’ in Spanish. She’s the neighbour you avoid, not because she plays music too loud, or is a crazy cat lady, but because there are eery thuds and noises that emanate from her apartment. They’re not loud enough to complain about, just loud enough for those in Jesse’s apartment above to be quite freaked out.
Jesse and best friend Hector decide to investigate the strange noises, and send the camera down the vents in hopes of getting a closer look at the cause of the weird sounds. They see some rather bizarre sights, including a nude woman painting blood on the younger woman’s belly. Jesse’s cute grandma Irma (who can drink you under the table) discovers them with the camera and scares some sense into them, telling them not snoop. You’d think that small taste of weirdness alone would scare a normal person – surely? Surely!? This is where I start yelling at the screen, “No. No. Don’t go into that house!”. A night or two later as they’re playing with fireworks, and they’re videoing it because of the pure hilarity, they see a former school mate sprinting out of the bruja’s house. Then, police, sirens, ambulance, and the neighbour witchy woman herself being wheeled out in a body bag. Jesse and Hector decide to go and check the place out and that’s when things get really strange..
The strength in this film, which feels stronger than the other sequels, is that the friendship (a true bromance) between Jesse and Hector is strong and believable. Along with friend Marisol, who lends the female touch the boys clearly need when trying not to mess with the demonic unknown the three make a great team. I haven’t gone to a Paranormal Activity film before and laughed, but this film had genuine moments of comedy. I felt like it had moments of Chronicle, where the friends were just having fun with the powers, and what it was doing to Jesse physically.
Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones has great pace, and builds genuinely; in part because of the likability of Jesse and Hector, but also due to the natural escalation of the scares. First, the element of sound, then the flickering of light, then objects just moving of their own free will. The boys are freaked out just when they need to be. There’s a moment towards the end as it all starts being pieced together, as chaos ensues that I punched my friend and said OH! OH! See?! It’s just that kind of movie. It instantly made me want to see it again, because I’m sure through bouts of hiding beneath my cardigan, I missed pertinent details. The sound editing also adds to the chill factor here. It’s difficult in a horror franchise to maintain the suspense and the surprises, when the core factor of the film started off with a haunting. The marked (pardon the pun) difference in this sequel is that it talks more about the possession as opposed to the haunting itself. The scares do not just occur at night, when they’re sleeping; a lot of it is when you really do least expect it, and that’s what makes this film so fun.
By Kimberley Santos
Director: Christopher Landon
Writer(s): Christopher Landon
Starring: Andrew Jacobs, Jorge Diaz, Gabrielle Walsh
Runtime: 84 minutes
Release date(s): Australia: January 23 2014