Rating: 1 / 5
While the first instalment of ‘Paranormal Activity’ (2007) certainly wasn’t a pioneer in found-footage horror (that distinction belongs to 1980’s ‘Cannibal Holocaust’), it sure did help spark the popularisation of the genre in the late-noughties. It was heartstopping, legitimately frightening and, most importantly, found a way to translate its low-budget aesthetics into believability.
Movie audiences bought into the story and the atmosphere solely because it was shot on the fly and genuinely looked like it could be real, achieving a suspension of disbelief that mirrored 1999’s ‘The Blair Witch Project’. Yet, as complimentary as we were of the 2007 haunted house mockumentary, its sequels predictably experienced diminishing returns.
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There is a formula in place now, and with it comes a familiarity that takes away from the organic nature of the franchise’s premise, so every follow-up becomes much less scarier.
Why does every demon have a compulsive need to document every second of their lives on camera? The logic behind "possessed" home videos is all right the first time, but it becomes absolute absurd the third, fourth or fifth time.
In the franchise’s latest offering, ‘Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones’, writer-director Christopher B Landon simply doesn’t bother with believability at all.
No, ‘The Marked Ones’ doesn’t even bother to be scary, or make sense, or be remotely entertaining for that matter. The real horror comes from the realisation (this happens fairly early, maybe around the 20-minute mark) that you have just paid money to witness the dullest demonic haunting ever recorded.
You become restless and perhaps, you even begin to develop mild motion sickness because of the herky-jerky handheld camera, and before you know it, you’ll even start to laugh at parts that are supposed to be scary. Like when Chicano gangsters do battle with a coven of witches, fighting black magic with shotguns and street cred.
Yes, people, the entity that terrorised Katie and Kristie have now come after a Latino family. And with that comes a bevy of Latino stereotypes that includes (but not limited to) gangs and tequila.
Here, you get to see silly teen protagonist Jesse (Andrew Jacobs) mess around with his friends for a large portion of the movie.
There is not a single scary moment in the movie.
And Jesse even uses his, um shall we say… spiritual enhancement, to fight off muggers, do cool skateboard tricks and hook up with girls.
‘The Marked Ones’ is indeed a joke, and it is not intentional. The 'Paranormal Activity' franchise has stretched itself too thin with these money-grabbing sequels and spin-offs.
And still, there is ‘Paranormal Activity 5’ to some next year. Oh, the horror.