Sunday, January 5, 2014

Film Review - Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones

The fifth installment in the Paranormal Activity franchise has many of the same elements of the first four features along with a different twist.  The hand held hove video aspect remains along with the stationary camera and slow build to the key events. This feature does include significantly more waking hour activity a new set location and a Latin flair.

The events take place in June 2012 starting at  graduation day at Lincoln High School.  We meet the main characters Jesse (Andrew Jacobs) and Hector (Jorge Diaz) as they are goofing off with a hand held camera sometimes recording the valedictorian speech by Oscar (Carlos Pratts).  Jesse returns home to a graduation party at his two level open concept apartment complex where the group trade stories of Anna (Gloria Sandoval) the woman that lives beneath Jesse's apartment, exhibits strange behaviour and  may or may not be a witch.

Over the next few days it appears that Oscar has a relationship with the woman. Then when she turns up dead he is the main suspect. Jesse and his friends begin to investigate carrying the handheld camera at all times eventually finding a hidden link to the woman, Jessie, Oscar and Jessie's mother. The group also find a link to the earlier films as they find the missing childhood tapes of Katie and Kristi stolen in episode 2 in the woman's apartment. Early into their investigation Jesse wakes up with what appears to be a bite on his forearm, soon followed by extra ordinary strength and balance which is an exciting sense of power at first but turns unnerving and negative as his march toward demonic possession continues.

Outing 5 takes a different path that the preceding 4 stories. It is not set in a suburban home and the main activity is not focused on stationary cameras capturing activity at night. This addition is set in an apartment complex with the key events originating outside of the residence of the main character.  The story is deeply rooted  in the latin community showing the local gang presence, some traditional neighbourhood dynamics and family values.

Writer Director Christopher Landon had a part in the prior three films of the franchise. The scrip features a few memorable sequences , a couple of reveals and a handful of tense instances but not enough suspense to carry the project. The viewers should also be aware that the story is not one that stands on its own as a couple of sets vital to the plot originate from prior instalments of the franchise.

The inexperienced cast work well as a group. They have several funny exchanges amongst the group. the stand out pair are Renee Victor as Jesse's Grandmother and Jorge Diaz as Hector. Both add a bit of comic relief to the proceedings and Diaz seamlessly switches for sidekick to lead investigator.  Gabrielle Walsh is notable as Marisol Jessie's good friend that takes the lead in researching the symbols and artifacts relating to case and enlisting the head of the local gang to assist in the proceedings.

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones is an attempt to be different from the earlier films. The different setting and characters bring a fresh element to the franchise but the script does not have enough meat or chills to hit its intended mark. Although the film may be an option for the hard core franchise fan as some of the events fill some holes in the prior episodes it is not a film I can recommend.

** out of 4.

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones | Christopher Landon | U.S.A. | 2014 | 84 minutes.

Sequel, Franchise, Occult, Witchcraft,  Los Angeles, Latin Community Home Video, Handheld shoot, Go Pro.

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