After skipping its normal Halloween release date and taking more than a year off, the Paranormal Activity franchise is rearing its boring, stupid head once again. Here, it pops up in January, a month notorious for awful films dumped by studios to hide away in the post-Christmas box office slump. Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones is no different. Directed by Christopher Landon (son of Michael), the film attempts to spin off from the franchise’s first four films by going in a new direction, but offers absolutely nothing new when it comes down to content, structure or style.
The film isn’t totally without merit, introducing a cast of Hispanic characters that breaks up the usual parade of affluent white people that usually populate these movies — even if it dabbles in a bit too many stereotypes. This, however, doesn’t keep the movie from being wholly predicated on a couple of guys carrying a camera around all the damn time. In this case, we’ve got our protagonists Jesse (Andrew Jacobs) and Hector (Jorge Diaz) who have a brand new camera and a possessed downstairs neighbor. After an apparent murder and some breaking and entering, Jesse soon learns he’s been cursed at birth by a coven of witches, which imbues him with superpowers and a pimply complexion.
All of this — especially Jesse’s apparent telekinetic powers — is supposed to ratchet up the film’s action (and totally not remind you of Chronicle (2012)). Instead, it results in a bigger special-effects budget and a horrendously staged action sequence. This is supposed to lead to the big finale that dovetails with the plot of the original Paranormal Activity (2006). That worked for me. I stopped watching these things after the second one. This doesn’t keep Landon and company from screwing even this up since The Marked Ones obviously takes place about six years after its predecessor. Of course, these movies have always been more about low production costs and a quick payday. Expecting anything more is foolish. Rated R for pervasive language, some violence, graphic nudity and some drug use.
Playing at United Artists Beaucatcher.