Can you believe we made it through 2013 alive? Can you believe we made it through 2013 alive AND without a Paranormal Activity movie being released?! It’s been four years since that happened and the producers of Saw have been giving the finger to PA the whole time. Also, it marks the first time that they didn’t just add a number to the title, possibly trying to move the franchise in a different direction. I know a lot of people groan when “From the people behind Paranormal Activity” pops up in trailers, but I think the series has some fun stuff to offer. The first Paranormal Activity had a good amount of subtle scares and Paranormal Activity 3 gave some backstory to why these things were happening and witches were involved. Granted, Paranormal Activity 2 just felt like a cash-in on the first film’s name without doing anything unique and Paranormal Activity 4 was…wait, fuck that movie. That was awful. So what’s it going to be, Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones? Are you going to be like the even number movies or odd numbered movies? WELL HOW ABOUT WE FIND OUT TOGETHER, FRIENDS! This review is relatively spoiler-free, or at least it is at the time of writing this sentence.
Even though we’ve seen the “Guys I just got a camera and want to film everything” trope used before, it fits in the goofier tone of the movie.
To celebrate his high school graduation, Jesse (Andrew Jacobs) celebrates by buying himself a GoPro camera. It’s mostly used to film the antics of him and his best friend Hector (Jorge Diaz), until they hear weird sounds coming from the apartment below theirs. They use the camera to see a weird ritual going on with a pregnant woman, and to add to the mystery, the old woman who lives there is murdered a few days later by a classmate. When Jesse and Hector investigate the apartment, they find pictures of Jesse as a kid and even of his pregnant mom, who died during childbirth. Jesse starts experiencing strange things, from visions to super-abilities to invisible forces. SHIT’S GETTING WEIRD, GUYS. With the good comes the bad, and Jesse has a mark appear on his body, weird strings come out of his eyeballs and stereotypical evil shit. Hector tries to find out what could be happening to Jesse with the help of a franchise familiar face, but will he be able to help Jesse before it’s too late? Obviously there’s going to be another movie so of course he doesn’t.
Apparently this is what happens to “marked ones”, which has to be the lamest mark I’ve ever seen. Can’t it at least be a pentagram or something badass?
What I found so appealing about the first film was the subtlety of key scares that made you take an active role in questioning whether or not you saw what you actually saw, and that shit is COMPLETELY GONE. But you know what? It works. The tone of this film is far more similar to something like Chronicle or Afflicted where the focus is the friendship aspect of the two leads and their own shock at the spectacular things happening. However, instead of realizing he has super powers, Jesse is realizing he might be in league with Satan. Ain’t that some shit? This means that all of the scares are completely insane and over the top and there’s no sort of subtlety to them. To say that this movie is at all “scary” is to say that it’s scary to be sitting at your desk writing a movie review and suddenly someone lights fireworks off directly behind you. Scary? No. Abrasively startling? You betcha!
Wait, am I watching the new Paranormal Activity of the new V/H/S?!
Even though the movie is no longer scary, I still dug some of the ways they started expanding the mythology established in the third movie. Although, it should be noted that I fucking love witches. Witch shit gets me excited, so seeing more witch stuff was fun for me. This movie also reminded me how lame the second movie and the fourth movie were, in that all they did was serve as filler for audiences to be reminded that these movies exist. Some of the stuff in the movie was so, SO DUMB. GUYS, IT’S WAS SO FUCKING DUMB. For example, having to find a new method of interacting with ghosts means that an old game of Simon became haunted. It would buzz green for “yes” and red for “no”. Really? A haunted game of Simon? How many kids in your audience will have no idea what that is? OH YES. I just remember one of the absolute dumbest things ever. At one point, some of the characters are wondering why all this spooky stuff is happening “sudden;y”, and then another character explains that it’s because they must be 18. When the justification for why 18 is such a significant age, one character writes down “666” and tells another character to add up the digits and…THAT’S RIGHT. THE REASON SPOOKY STUFF HAPPENS TO THEM AT 18 IS BECAUSE 6 PLUS 6 PLUS 6 IS EIGHTEEN. Wow, that’s a fucking stretch. Why even justify that?! Why even explain that?! Ugh. Despite those flaws, there’s some cooler story related things in here and the tone of it is a lot more fun so it’s definitely entertaining, so hopefully the filmmakers take another year off after Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones to bring us something scary in 2016. Oh yeah, there also is a sequence at the end that I thought drew a pretty cool connection to the other films, although I’m sure there are going to be a ton of people who think it is a forced and arbitrary line to draw. But wasn’t that the point of this entire movie? YEAH, THAT’S WHAT I THOUGHT.
Wolfman Moon Scale