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“Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones” attempts to be scarier than it is

By Christopher Campbell
On January 7, 2014

“Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones” is desperate in its attempts to be scary and further the franchise, but it is still an entertaining film.

 

Jesse (Andrew Jacobs) and Hector (Jorge Diaz) are two friends who are recording their post-high school lives with a video camera.

 

They notice a young man named Oscar, who Jesse and Hector know from high school, has been regularly visiting Anna (Gloria Sandoval), Jesse’s odd neighbor who lives in the apartment below him. This strikes them as weird because Anna is a middle-aged, heavy set woman.

 

One day while they are in Jesse’s room, they hear some noises from her apartment. They investigate by slipping a small camera through the vents. What they see is Anna doing something satanic.

 

Meanwhile, an invisible being enters Jesse’s life. At first it is benign, and it seems to be protecting him. However, as time goes on, it is apparent there is nothing righteous about it. In fact, it is completely evil.

 

Eventually, they find out that what Anna did has connection to why Oscar visits her, and it has something to do with paranormal experiences Jesse starts having.

 

The first “Paranormal Activity” was a breakthrough in horror films. It proves that the scariest movies do not need a big budget, to be overly gory or cause people to jump in every scene. It cost $15,000 to make, and it succeeds at being scary by creating a realistic atmosphere. It plays on the idea that sometimes at night, noises are heard that could be anything. “Paranormal Activity” assumes the worst and says that noise could be a demon. The first movie’s success spawned several sequels.

 

The second and third movies had bigger budgets and attempted to explain why the events in the first film happened. They both had their creepy moments, but it was clear by the third film that it was starting to become desperate as it resorted to cheap, B-movie jump scares that were mostly done by regular people and not the entity that is supposed to be frightening.

 

This movie furthers the franchise’s desperation with cheap, jumpy moments, a disturbing scene in which a character takes a string out of his eye, a car accident, a witch’s coven and even a time travel plot point. The intention of adding time travel is to link this film with the others. While this adds new perspective for the audience, it does not have an effect on the chronology. Had the events of this film not happened, nothing would change.

 

This movie does deserve some credit. The time travel plot point is a little desperate and cheesy, but the film is still entertaining. The filmmakers clearly wanted to try something different, and it shows. Instead of cameras being set up around the house of white, middle-class people, this is filmed by a group of lower-class Latino youth shooting their day-to-day life. Some of the shots are done on the street rather than inside their house.12

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