Film | Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones – A refreshing change of direction that ultimately falls short

Image: Paramount Pictures

2/5 Stars

Paranormal Activity as a whole has become something of an addiction; I feel inclined to roll my eyes when each new film is announced, but I feel far too dedicated to the series to cut the cord now. The latest entry, Latino spin-off The Marked Ones, centres on best friends Jesse (Andrew Jacobs) and Hector (Jorge Diaz). After Jesse’s sinister neighbour is found dead, the two visit her apartment to find out exactly what she was doing in there. This leads to the realisation that Jesse has been “marked” (possessed) by the neighbour’s ghost, and after some hilarious scenes involving a demon partaking in trust falling and a game of Simon Says, things rapidly spiral out of control for poor Jesse.

The best part about this spin-off is how it dismisses the formula of the previous films. The “night #” structure has been removed in The Marked Ones, and the use of a family unit as the main characters doesn’t really exist here. A change of character templates is definitely the greatest pro of the film, making the day-time scenes, which are dull in previous entries, a lot funnier and more compelling. Jesse’s hilarious Grandmother (Renee Victor) stands out in these moments, being as vivacious as she is down-right adorable. The Marked Ones also add to the Paranormal Activity lore much more than expected; linking to infamous scenes from previous films in ways you won’t see coming.

On the down side the film, to put it bluntly, isn’t really that scary. Although it is refreshing to see a dismissal of the usual formula, I craved staring at a quiet tableau, dying to work out what insignificant object the demon was about to fling across the room. The scares were much more in-your-face and therefore painfully predictable. The film definitely pays for it, especially in one scene towards the end which was inappropriately melodramatic, causing many people in the screening to explode into laughter. This meant that the very end of the film, which was equally mind blowing and petrifying, was overshadowed by the previous scene, forcing me to accept that, to be honest, The Marked Ones is pretty rubbish.

When the first Paranormal Activity came out it was loved by so many for one simple reason: it was scary. Interesting as it was to see a change from the formula this time, much of the horror was lost in the process, (although this may be due to the trailer giving half of the film away). If you’re a big fan of the series, then it’s worth a watch simply because the plot is decent, and definitely adds to the complexity of this world. Unfortunately, as with every other sequel, The Marked Ones answers a couple of questions before catapulting another thousand at you, as a completely unexpected (and somewhat ridiculous) dimension to the story is introduced by the time the credits roll.

David Robinson

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