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Thursday, January 9, 2014

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones - Review

After the mysterious and sudden death of his neighbor, Jesse begins experiencing odd paranormal disturbances. While investigating the bigger picture he discovers he has been specially marked for possession in Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones.

Let this be a disclaimer that this review will contain spoilers. If you haven't seen this movie and want to, I suggest you come back after you have seen it. You don't want the ending spoiled for you. Trust me.

Last chance.

I will be the first to say that I absolutely despise the Paranormal Activity movies. I think they are boring, full of cheap scares, and a bit over stretched. With that said, I was not excited to see The Marked Ones especially after I learned it was a spin-off. I saw the trailer and while I gave it credit for actually looking more eventful I still didn't put much stock in it. After seeing it I have to admit, despite how embarrassing this is for me, this was a pretty damn good horror movie and by far is the best of the Paranormal Activity franchise so far.
Why do I say this? Well, first off there is no footage of people sleeping. None. That made me extremely happy. Second, it was consistently eventful throughout the entire movie. There was none of this boring as hell for an hour and then eventful for the last 10-15min. I also thought the acting wasn't all that bad either. The kids were believable and they weren't as annoying as the previous teenagers we have had, especially in Paranormal Activity 4.
As far as the plot goes I thought this one probably had one of the most interesting storylines. The basics of it are Jesse's neighbor was a witch and tried possessing his classmate, Oscar, and then the demon marked and possessed Jesse. I think the setting was a nice change of pace because it dealt with completely different people in a different area of California.

The movie, obviously, was full of gimmicks but there was the good and the bad.

The best gimmicks:

The haunted Simon Says toy
The rehash of the bite mark as the symbol for "the marked ones"
The time travel reveal

The bad gimmicks:

Falling backwards and not hitting the ground
Super strength in beating up gangsters

A lot of the gimmicks and elements were easter eggs, to a point, referencing the previous movies. These are not limited to the Spanish newspapers in Katie's house (PA4), the reuse of the bite mark (PA), the word "meus" written on the wall (PA2), The box of stolen VHS tapes (PA2), grandma Lori's house being the witch coven (PA3), and young Kristi and Katie appearing in the neighbor's basement.

Now this all led up to something... I do have to say the ending was not only the best part of the movie, but it was definitely the best of the entire franchise.I recognized the grandma's house almost immediately because despite not liking the movie as a whole, I will say that my favorite part of Paranormal Activity 3 was when Dennis ran down the hallway and opened the door with the room full of witches just standing there. Hector, Marisol, and the gangsters raid the coven and these crazy, yelling witches come out of nowhere and get blown away shotgun style. They enter the house and encounter a demonic Jesse and more witches that seem to appear out of nowhere. Marisol and the gangsters bite the dust leaving poor Hector the cameraman running from Jesse.
Remember me saying one of the best gimmicks was time travel? Here is where this comes into play. It is explained to a point that the witches can travel from point to point in reference to demonic possession. Yes, this means they can travel through time to the event of a full possession. Hector is running from Jesse and he opens a door in grandma's house and finds himself in a familiar spot. I immediately recognized it as Katie and Micah's house from the very first Paranormal Activity. You see Katie walking down the stairs as she did at the end of PA, she grabs a knife, and when she turns around she looks at Hector and starts screaming for Micah, as in the first movie. This is what we didn't see in the movie because the camera stays stationary in the master bedroom. Micah sees Hector, pushes him, and then Katie starts stabbing him. Hector gets scared and when he turns around you are surprised by a full demonic Jesse popping up and killing Hector. There is speculation that the person who turns off the light on the camera downstairs is Alex from Paranormal Activity 4, but I think it looked like Katie.

Here is my theory about this ending... This all literally happened at the same time from the very beginning. We just didn't know it at the time. I think Katie could have had a brief relief from the trance to scream for Micah and lure him downstairs because she saw Hector in the kitchen. We didn't know it because as mentioned before, Micah's camera was stationary in the bedroom.

Director Christopher Landon has done a nice job wrapping this all together to this point. I'm not saying I am suddenly a big fan of Paranormal Activity franchise, but this was a nice surprise. No shit, I screamed when Jesse popped up at the end looking like the devil. It caught me 100% off guard. I think this was a good set up for Paranormal Activity 5 and it finally made a connection between the previous four movies that is more than Katie randomly popping up everywhere. It's nice to know this spreads beyond this singular family and this witch coven is worldwide. Bloody good show.

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