Friday, January 2, 2015

Film Review: Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones (2014)

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones (Review)
United States/2014
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant (Extended Edition)
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: Yes

"...not enough life to revitalize this dwindling series."

In Oxnard, California, Jesse graduates from high school and celebrates. Soon, Jesse and his friends cross paths with a neighbor suspected of being a witch...

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones is more of the same, with some minor changes. The film begins like every other supernatural found footage horror film -- home videos. After these boring home videos, which show us Jesse and his friends bothering his neighbor then breaking into her apartment, Jesse finds he has some abnormal powers a la Chronicle. Then, he starts to change and become more serious, so his friends investigate. They find out about a coven and track it back to this large, ominous home. Finally, it reaches the same conclusion, as usual, except for a slight difference in the final minute.

First and foremost, The Marked Ones is not actually shot in Oxnard. It's shot in LA, I believe, and it features a bunch of stereotypes, like everyone speaking Spanglish, ending every sentence with "fool," and gang members everywhere. I'm from Oxnard, and this is a mediocre attempt at capturing the city and culture. Fortunately, the shift in culture, although slightly inaccurate, gives the film more life than the previous installment; unfortunately, it's not enough life to revitalize this dwindling series.
It's simply too much of the same. There are some slight aesthetic changes, but that's it -- aesthetics.

The most blatant example: changing the Ouija board to a Simon toy. A different way of communication, yet the same way of communication. The story is interesting, and I like that's it's evolving into something more supernatural than "things that go bump in the night," but it simply has too much filler. It really feels like your watching a set of home videos for a half of the runtime. Actually, I watched The Avengers the day before watching Marked Ones, and The Avengers actually felt like the shorter film!

After the home videos, you have Jesse playing and recording his new powers -- like I said, it feels like Chronicle. That's not the main issue, though. Instead, this adds to the severe lack of horror. This doesn't feel like a horror movie, at least not until the end. Sure, there are jump-scares at every corner, but there is no suspense, no dread, not even a pinch of creepiness. The climax of the film feels like it was ripped out of [Rec], which leads into my next issue: this film feels like it has no identity. It feels like every other Paranormal Activity film ever made, with elements from films like Chronicle and [Rec] sprinkled on top in an attempt at creating a more distinct film. It doesn't work, though.

The acting was decent, I actually didn't have any problems with the acting. The film is shot competently enough, at least for a found-footage film. (at least I didn't feel nauseous.) I was wondering why the characters hardly used night vision, though. Otherwise, like the narrative and horror, this is just another found-footage film. Writer and director Christopher B. Landon attempts to deliver a distinct film, but ends up giving us more of the same; unfortunately, "the same" has grown stale. The pacing is also bad due to the filler, this film could have been cut down by 20 minutes and still be as effective -- if not, even more effective. (Maybe it's my own fault for watching the Extended Cut?)

Overall, Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones is a bad horror film. In fact, it's difficult to call this a horror film. The change in scenery and culture is slightly helpful in changing the film, but it ultimately reverts to the same ol' same ol'. The story has some interesting plot points, though, and there are some exciting sequences here. If the final minute of the film is any indication of the future direction of the series, then I still have hope for a refreshing and creative Paranormal Activity film. Until then, I can't recommend Marked One for anything more than a stream on Netflix, fool.

Score: 3/10
Parental Guide: Some strong violence and blood, nudity.

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