Director: Christopher Landon
Cast: Richard Cabral, Molly Ephraim, Andrew Jacobs
Release Date: January 23, 2014
Running time: 84 minutes
Film Worth: $13.00
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Investing this supernatural franchise with a cultural twist is fresh, but ultimately forgettable.
For over five years, the Paranormal Activity film franchise has been both hit and miss, and part of that is because filmgoers know what to expect. There’s always a demonic entity, found footage and hauntings, with a focus on the paranormal phenomena and demonology that offers both legitimate and cheap scares.
Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones employs many of the aspects of the series, while taking the story away from white Americans in Los Angeles and transferring it to the heavily Hispanic occupied Oxnard, California, centering on three young Latino friends, Jesse (Andrew Jacobs), Hector (Jorge Diaz) and Marisol (Gabrielle Walsh). In short, it’s Paranormal Activity for the Hispanic community.
Following a neighbour, Anna (Gloria Sandoval), dying in the apartment beneath the home of Jesse, described by Jesse’s grandmother as a “bruja” (Spanish for “witch”), the friends investigate, accidentally stumbling on a world of black magic and dark forces. But unlike the former films where the hauntings take place in the home of the characters, this movie sees Jesse marked with an inhuman bite and developing supernatural powers in every day life.
The change of scenery and new characters breathes new life into this latest entry, as does the expanding of the franchise’s mythology and universe. Long gone are the slamming doors by demons during bedtime, and they’ve been replaced with a large group of malevolent coven witches whose sole goal it is to possess male children.
By side stepping the main Katie-centric franchise storyline prevalent in the first few films, director Christoper B. Landon plays Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones like a spin-off, which is largely true until the final ten minutes, which answers long-running questions and changes the landscape of the entire series. There are also cameos in the film: Ali (Molly Ephraim), the teenage daughter from the second film is seen and the infamous videotapes featuring childhood footage of sister Katie (Katie Featherston) and Kristi (Sprague Grayden) are discovered. But it’s the guest appearance of Katie herself in a completely new context that changes the story and how this “spin off” fits within the series.
A functioning plotline, however, isn’t the main reason potential movie-goers will see the film, but rather scares and frights of an exceptional quality. Unfortunately, The Marked Ones fails to provide actual scares, opting instead for intense action sequences and shocking explosive scenes. Overall, it’s an unbalanced film, with several laugh out loud moments and thrilling action sequences, but it lacks the memorable scares required for this to rate any higher than an above average horror film.
Originally published on FilmInk Magazine online, January 21, 2014.
Watch the trailer for Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones below: