Oh 'Paranormal Activity', you're the series that started off pretty creepy, but turned into a lot of other horror series over the years. To be completely fair, I really do like the first two films in the 'Paranormal Activity' series (and the fourth installment more than I should.). It has though, become a very stale series over the course of its run. The scares begin to die down and the formulaic nature, that is almost the same in each film, hurts the series overall. Now, if you know anything of movies and film, you know that January is where films are a vast wasteland of awfulness. So when last October I heard 'The Marked Ones' was put off until the first month of the year, it raised some red flags. Those flags were redder than ever once I watched the film.
'Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones' follows the story of Jesse Arista (Andrew Jacobs), a recent high school graduate living in Oxnard, California, who lives with his father and grandmother. In the apartment below theirs, there lives a woman named Ana (Gloria Sandoval), who everyone thinks is a witch. One night Ana is murdered and Oscar (Carlos Pratts), a former classmate of Jesse, is the prime suspect because he was seen leaving Ana's apartment before the body was found. The next day, Jesse and his friend Hector (Jorge Diaz), investigate the crime scene and find a lot of supernatural and black magic items, along with a picture of Jesse. Waking up the next morning, Jesse finds a mysterious bite on his arm. Later that night, Jesse and Hector are confronted by a bunch of thugs, but the thugs are knocked out mysteriously by Jesse. When they show what happened to their friend Marisol (Gabrielle Walsh), Jesse can't remember it at all. Jesse believes he has superhuman strength, but there are far worse consequences as a result of the mysterious bite on his am.
Where to start with this one? This is the first spin-off in the series, but even the change of scenery doesn't help this "I know what's gonna happen from the trailer" film. Now, I got a large amount of enjoyment out of this, but it does not make this a good film. I got a lot of laughs with my friend as we watched and dissected this as it wore on. The characters are actually the best pat of the 'The Marked Ones'. Jesse, Hector and Marisol are written well, for what this film is, and are pretty likable throughout. The acting between Andrew Jacobs, Jorge Diaz and Gabrielle Walsh was fine as well. That is where this film takes a complete nosedive for me. The story is boring and predictable, until the big reveal about the next film, but even then it's not really worth sitting through this. The first few films can get away with being kinda formulaic, but when it's the fifth installment in the series (and a spin-off), you gotta do something, anything, to blow the audience away. Also, the writing just seemed lazy overall. Even though the characters were likable, they're purely one dimensional, and I really didn't care about any of them aside from entertainment value. The story they told and the way they did it is also a snooze-fest. Open with Person A, something mysterious starts happening to them, try to get rid of super natural entity, big fight thing, scary image to close. It's the calling card for the series, I get that, but it doesn't mean I have to like it in the slightest. It also doesn't feel like a film, but more an extended episode of a TV show you'd see on UPN (I guess The CW for you kids nowadays.). I hate it when a film doesn't feel like a film. When it feels like a hastily made TV episode, it takes so much out of whatever the film has going for it. Plus this film isn't even scary, or maybe I'm just used to the tactics it uses, mainly jump scares that don't work. The supernatural side attempts to be interesting at times, but it never truly comes across as frightening.
'Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones' is just a plain lazy film. You can look at the big October horror series the past decade in 'SAW' and see that despite (some) lacking films, the series went all out. With a series like 'Paranormal Activity', I get the feeling it's just getting lazier and lazier with each entry. Aside from the entertaining one dimensional characters, this film is a boring, un-scary, mess that should only be watched if you happen to be going through the series. On second thought, even if you're watching the whole series, you can just go ahead and skip this one.