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Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones (2014)

Paramount Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 4/8/2014

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Review by Mike Long, Posted on 4/8/2014

Horror movie franchises are nothing new and in the late 1980s and early 1990s, movie goers were very accustomed to getting a new A Nightmare on Elm Street or Friday the 13th, and to a lesser extent, Halloween, movie at the cineplex every year. At this same time, there were countless series which were producing multiple titles at the video store as fast as they could. However, this trend petered out in the 90s, and save for things like Scream, we rarely saw any big-time horror series. This all changed when Paranormal Activity hit theaters in 2009. Following this hit, we got additional entries in 2010, 2011, and 2012, each of varying quality. Much to the surprise of fans, in 2013, we didn't get a new movie, but rather an announcement of a differ kind of movie. I seem to remember that the news was that the new movie would be a Spanish-speaking remake of the first film. In reality, the dawn of 2014 brought us Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones, an odd detour for the series.

Jesse (Andrew Jacobs) and his best friend, Hector (Jorge Diaz), have just graduated from high school. Seeing a nice video camera at the graduation party, Jesse decides to use some of the cash he received as a gift to buy his own camera and he begins to tape his day-to-day activities. When the mysterious woman down stairs dies (or perhaps was murdered), Jesse and Hector decide to check out her apartment, where they find odd drawings on the wall and a sort of altar in the crawlspace. They also find a journal which describes occult rituals and a family history. The next morning, Jesse awakens to find a bite on his arm. Following this, odd things begin happening to Jesse -- things which can't be explained. However, he sees them as fun and exciting. Then, his behavior begins to change and Hector senses a change in his friend. As more and more bizarre things manifest themselves, Jesse begins to undergo a transformation.

Given how (impressively at times) intertwined the first three films were, the Paranormal Activity franchise took a big risk by introducing new characters in Paranormal Activity 4, and the result was an incredibly dull movie. So, it was surprising that instead of going back to its roots, the series brought us a completely new story with Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones. We do get cameos by some characters from the other movies, but for the most part, this is a separate side-story which is set in the same universe.

Simply reading that, I'm sure that you thought, "That could cause some confusion with the audience." It certainly could and it does, but things get even worse when one tries to follow the very dotted lines which this film has to the main series, as things aren't explained very clearly. Apparently, the downstairs neighbor, Anna (Gloria Sandoval), was the Oxnard representative to the coven we learned about in Paranormal Activity 3. And she had apparently been watching Jesse his entire life. But, that still doesn't fully explain Jesse's behavior, especially given the fact that we saw females acting strangely in the first two movies. The way in which the demon behaves is different. Is this the same demon? The second half of the film brings in some things which tie it to the series, but it still feels like a leap.

So, for the most part, Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones can be seen as a movie which stands nearly on its own away from the rest of the series. And when judged on these merits, we see that it's not very good. As per usual in found footage films, there is very little character development and it's difficult to connect with Jesse and Hector (and not just because they start every sentence with "Oh shit...".) The story meanders and the scenes don't flow together very well. As with the last film, all of the interesting action comes in the last few minutes. This is where the film really tries to tie into the series. And during that moment, it seems very cool...until you really take a moment and think about it and then you realize that it doesn't gel.

So, here's the big question: Is it a positive thing that the powers that be made a movie featuring Latin/Hispanic characters or is that offensive? I'm not the one to answer that question. I can tell you that it seems odd that Michael Landon's son was chosen to write and direct the movie. Couldn't they find a whiter person? The best thing that I can say about Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones is that it's better than Paranormal Activity 4. But, that's not saying much.

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones may be the first horror movie to be endorsed by Milton Bradley on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Paramount Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 32 Mbps. Being a found footage movie, there are some issues which show up here. The image is sharp and clear, showing no notable grain. However, there is some pixellation and blurring of the image during quick camera movements. The image is also somewhat dark at times (due to the fact that "natural" light is used). The colors are natural and look fine. The level of detail is adequate and looks best during the daytime scenes. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 3.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. Again, the "homemade" nature, lends itself to some audio "issues", such as distortion and muddy dialogue. That aside, the track offers some nice surround sound, most notably during the action scenes.

The lone extra feature on the Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones Blu-ray Disc is called "Found Footage", which is simply seven deleted scenes which run about 11 minutes. Most of these are very similar to scenes seen in the finished film.

Review Copyright 2014 by Mike Long