Reviews - Major Releases


Film Review: Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones

A shift in focus helps revive the low-budget horror series, despite the near-absence of returning cast members.

Jan 3, 2014

-By Justin Lowe


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1392098-Paranormal_Activity_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

Taking a new tack with the hugely successful and lucrative Paranormal Activity franchise, the series’ filmmakers target a young Latino audience with the fifth installment, which acts as a spinoff from the original films. Playful rather than cynical, this fresh approach provides sufficient variation to bring back fans loyal to the established brand, as well as engage a larger urban audience as well. Paranormal-scale returns seem unlikely, but Paramount could still see a big weekend when The Marked Ones’ take is combined with box-office earnings from holdovers The Wolf of Wall Street and Anchorman 2.

Recent Oxnard, Calif. high-school graduate Jesse (Andrew Jacobs) and homeboy Hector (Jorge Diaz) plan to spend their summer goofing off and chasing girls, but the sudden death of Jesse’s downstairs neighbor, middle-aged recluse Anna (Gloria Sandoval), messes with their plans. Breaking through a window into Anna’s shuttered apartment after the authorities have sealed the front door, the teens discover a collection of ritualistic art and a children’s nursery outfitted with ominous surgical equipment. Shortly after removing a journal full of occult writings and illustrations from Anna’s place, Jesse finds a mark on his arm that looks like an animal bite and begins to experience strange physical sensations and a growing sense of strength and power, but he’s also losing track of events and unable to control his increasingly violent temper.

Hector and Jesse’s sister Marisol (Gabrielle Walsh) take their concerns about Jesse’s erratic behavior to his grandmother, who quickly senses the young man’s unease and consults a local healer, but the prescribed ritual only enrages Jesse further. A series of clues leads Jesse’s friends to Ali (Molly Ephraim), who helps them connect recent events and warns that Jesse is in extreme danger from the supernatural forces that have possessed his body and psyche.

Adopting a looser approach to the found-footage conceit than in the previous Paranormal Activity films he’s scripted, Christopher Landon gets behind the camera on the current outing, but stylistically he doesn’t manage to noticeably enhance the technique or innovatively employ alternatives to the franchise’s overly familiar brand of shaky handheld cinematography.

Landon’s screenplay displays a fresh, often amusing perspective, however, and this lighter touch serves both the material and the intended audience well, even without returning cast members beyond a few brief appearances. At the same time, the script succeeds by expanding the Paranormal Activity mythology with additional details and even a few surprising twists, including a particularly sinister use of Milton Bradley’s “Simon” electronic game.

Jacobs and Diaz share an easy rapport throughout, enhanced by their use of Latino slang and cultural references, along with frequent humor in the early going. Minimal Spanish-language dialogue ensures that the film remains accessible to a broad audience. Further attempts to leverage specific demographic segments of the Paranormal fan base might irreparably fragment the franchise, but for now a sense of reinvigoration prevails.

The Hollywood Reporter


Film Review: Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones

A shift in focus helps revive the low-budget horror series, despite the near-absence of returning cast members.

Jan 3, 2014

-By Justin Lowe


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1392098-Paranormal_Activity_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

Taking a new tack with the hugely successful and lucrative Paranormal Activity franchise, the series’ filmmakers target a young Latino audience with the fifth installment, which acts as a spinoff from the original films. Playful rather than cynical, this fresh approach provides sufficient variation to bring back fans loyal to the established brand, as well as engage a larger urban audience as well. Paranormal-scale returns seem unlikely, but Paramount could still see a big weekend when The Marked Ones’ take is combined with box-office earnings from holdovers The Wolf of Wall Street and Anchorman 2.

Recent Oxnard, Calif. high-school graduate Jesse (Andrew Jacobs) and homeboy Hector (Jorge Diaz) plan to spend their summer goofing off and chasing girls, but the sudden death of Jesse’s downstairs neighbor, middle-aged recluse Anna (Gloria Sandoval), messes with their plans. Breaking through a window into Anna’s shuttered apartment after the authorities have sealed the front door, the teens discover a collection of ritualistic art and a children’s nursery outfitted with ominous surgical equipment. Shortly after removing a journal full of occult writings and illustrations from Anna’s place, Jesse finds a mark on his arm that looks like an animal bite and begins to experience strange physical sensations and a growing sense of strength and power, but he’s also losing track of events and unable to control his increasingly violent temper.

Hector and Jesse’s sister Marisol (Gabrielle Walsh) take their concerns about Jesse’s erratic behavior to his grandmother, who quickly senses the young man’s unease and consults a local healer, but the prescribed ritual only enrages Jesse further. A series of clues leads Jesse’s friends to Ali (Molly Ephraim), who helps them connect recent events and warns that Jesse is in extreme danger from the supernatural forces that have possessed his body and psyche.

Adopting a looser approach to the found-footage conceit than in the previous Paranormal Activity films he’s scripted, Christopher Landon gets behind the camera on the current outing, but stylistically he doesn’t manage to noticeably enhance the technique or innovatively employ alternatives to the franchise’s overly familiar brand of shaky handheld cinematography.

Landon’s screenplay displays a fresh, often amusing perspective, however, and this lighter touch serves both the material and the intended audience well, even without returning cast members beyond a few brief appearances. At the same time, the script succeeds by expanding the Paranormal Activity mythology with additional details and even a few surprising twists, including a particularly sinister use of Milton Bradley’s “Simon” electronic game.

Jacobs and Diaz share an easy rapport throughout, enhanced by their use of Latino slang and cultural references, along with frequent humor in the early going. Minimal Spanish-language dialogue ensures that the film remains accessible to a broad audience. Further attempts to leverage specific demographic segments of the Paranormal fan base might irreparably fragment the franchise, but for now a sense of reinvigoration prevails.

The Hollywood Reporter
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Major Releases

Into the Woods
Film Review: Into the Woods

Over-scaled, too dark and only intermittently charming Sondheim musical adaptation does a disservice to a great cast and is often so noisy you can't even appreciate the music. More »

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb
Film Review: Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb

Latest rollicking entry in the sturdy series (installments one and two together hit a billion dollars in grosses) again has natural and historic wonders come alive at night to wreak havoc. But it’s largely kids’ stuff. More »

The Interview
Film Review: The Interview

If you’re curious, the movie that has North Korea so upset is genuinely amusing, if flawed in the length department. More »

Annie review
Film Review: Annie

Here’s an updated Annie for today’s entitled, tech-savvy and racially diverse generation of tweens who can easily relate to the new Annie’s love of luxurious toys. Their parents and other adults may miss the sweet innocence of the original, but they won’t be entirely bored by this frenetic new version of her classic story. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

Into the Woods
Film Review: Into the Woods

Over-scaled, too dark and only intermittently charming Sondheim musical adaptation does a disservice to a great cast and is often so noisy you can't even appreciate the music. More »

The H obbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Film Review: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

After rewriting the rules for modern fantasy cinema, for the better and worse, Peter Jackson’s six-film Tolkien saga slams, bangs and shudders to a long-overdue conclusion. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here