Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones Movie Review
Now it's clear why Paramount dumped Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones into the tail end of winter vacation, dooming the quasi-spinoff to the worst financial performance by any film in the franchise. It completely misses the mark.
It has become obvious by now that there aren't a lot of ideas left in the Paranormal Activity franchise; sure, there's been an expansion of the story to show how a demonic force has possessed individuals over generations, but really, every movie is about weird things going on in a household that eventually result in death and destruction.
What makes most of these Paranormal Activity movies work is not the story but the gimmick, that of building suspense and dread through long, tension-filled shots where something may or may not occur. Early on, the simplest of things - like a box of cereal falling off a counter, or a woman standing silently over her sleeping husband - could make an entire theater audience jump, or at the very least creep the shit out of people.
Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones, directed by Christopher Landon, the writer of all but the first Paranormal Activity movies, largely abandons what makes the franchise tick. The fount footage approach is still in play, but those long tracking shots that even to this day still work pretty well are discarded in lieu of handheld camerawork that fails to evoke many, if any, scares.
While Landon shouldn't be faulted for trying to take his film in a different direction, especially since many have decried the Paranormal Activity franchise as stale, he must be faulted for making a horror movie that simply isn't scary.
Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones plays out more like Chronicle at times than a Paranormal Activity movie, only where the source of the lead character's "powers" is actually a demon protecting his future victim. This actually would have been a cool twist had we not already known, through the film's title, that all will not end well for this teenager. Since we do, there are no surprises, no shocks and nothing that really amounts to anything.
Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones tries to be different and pays the price. The early films were legitimately scary (well, except for the inevitable comment troll who will point out that he was never, ever scared by any of them), and even the later ones have their moments. This latest entry isn't horribly made, but a horror movie that isn't scary is a failure on any measure.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.