March 29, 2014

Blu-ray Review: Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones (2014)
As far as we're concerned, the Paranormal Activity series ended with PA3. PA4 was dull, lame rehash of the first 3 PA movies that did nothing but frustrate us.

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones isn't that much better. 

The idea of Found Footage just isn't fresh anymore. The novelty has worn off, and for the most part, it's a sub-genre that spins its wheels more than most other sub-genres do.

We know all of the tricks now, and we're crying foul on the silly tropes that flicks like this keep using over and over again, to lesser and lesser effect each time.

By definition, Found Footage flicks are supposed to be anchored in reality; they basically serve as an evidentiary document of the "real" goings-on in their characters lives, and by that rule alone, they are supposed to be indisputably true.

Aside from how false that so much of it rings, the main issue with Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones (which will be known as PATMO from this point forward, because I'm not typing that entire title out every time I need to use it), is that it's more ridiculous than it is scary... or compelling... or good.

PATMO moves the supernatural shenanigans of the PA universe from the Suburbs to the Barrio, which we found kind of neat because at this point we're awful tired of seeing white people being haunted by malevolent Spirits and Demons. Supernatural diversity is a good thing, people.

Anywho, this new PA endeavor involves a group of SoCal kids celebrating their High School graduation with tequila, salsa, and of course, a newly purchased video camera (which is always on.) When the creepy neighborhood Bruha (Witch) is murdered in the apartment below, video-ready Jesse and his friends set out to "see what it looks like." The dead Witch's apartment, that is.

This is what it looks like.
What they find is a bunch of black magic tools, and some pictures of Jesse and his mom, which seems rather odd. The next morning, Jesse wakes up to find an equally odd bite mark on his arm, which has apparently granted him special powers. Curious about his new-found abilities, the gang decides to contact the spirit world via an old Simon game straight out of 1984.

Yeah... the plot of this movie involves a haunted fucking Simon game.

From this point on, PATMO goes a bit off the rails with its jumping between times and making the once simple PA mythology into an over-complicated, over-explained mess.

Who knew that Simon was also a Ouija Board?
You've seen it once, you've seen it five times now (six, if you count the Japanese film PA2: Tokyo Night), and it's less effective the fifth time out! Crazy, right? Because Horror movies that are churned out every year as a part of a series never get weaker and more ridiculous as the numbers grow... *Cough* Saw.

PATMO's greatest sin as a FF movie is that it fails to be scary. To be fair, there are a few creepy moments sprinkled throughout this one, and at times things felt fairly tense, but those moments were few and far between, and felt absolutely fleeting when we actually got them. We knew what was coming, and it wasn't hard to guess when, so really, there's not much in this one that could have truly scared us.

The Barrio setting was interesting, as were the nuances of Hispanic life that really made this one feel different from the first 4 entries; there was a lot more action; and Hector's cute little Abuela was enjoyable; and the part where the kid "pops" into the room was pretty cool too. That's about it on the "good" front.

Iggy Pop out of nowhere!
What we really don't get is that the FF sub-genre has been around fro a while now, so how in the world can Horror filmmakers continue to justify their characters recording every bit of everything that's going on around them? Sure, someone might record some things here and there, but no way does anyone record things "movie style" when their life is in danger.

-Sitting around with friends? Record it.
-Walking the mean streets of the Barrio? Record it.
-Get confronted by Latino gang members who don't want you recording them? Record it.
-Find your door open in the middle of the night? Record what you do in reaction to that, because you don't have eyes, and when you're scared that someone may have broken into your house, you definitely want to be looking through a camera lens, and utilizing its limited view to the fullest.
-Hiding from someone in a creepy basement where occult rituals have been performed? Record that too, and mind that you keep the camera light on too, because the person who is potentially going to kill you can't see that light in a pitch black basement, and especially not through the thin sheet of clear plastic that you're hiding behind.
-You're going to break into a Church in the middle of the night, desecrate it, and perform an occult ritual? Record that shit, because Cops love evidence.

It's all just so ridiculous, that it makes me want to fucking scream.

Why are these characters filming everything that they do? Why are they using the camera to see whats going on around them, instead of dropping it and looking with their eyes? Why are they creeping around in dark & dangerous places with the camera light on?

I know, I know, I know... without them filming everything, there could be no movie. Fine. We can swallow some of it as a plot device, but to make it all ring so egregiously false kills everything that the movie is trying to accomplish. There's just no logical reason for the characters to film everything, aside from the fact that the movie wouldn't exist if they didn't.

Great hiding place. Very well lit.
Aside from the Found Footage issues, we also had a hard time digging the story and its mechanics. Everything "scary" was telegraphed pretty hard, and the way that the end of the movie tied it in with the previous installments felt tacked on and forced. Had they just left it at the kids finding the tapes of Katie & Kristi, and let the rest of the movie be more of a stand-alone venture, resolution and all, it may have worked better.

It really felt as if the producers of this movie focused more on making it a PA movie, rather than making it a scary movie that fit nicely into the already established PA universe.

FF flicks like this need to make some sort of sense, even if it's barely enough to make you suspend your disbelief to accept what your seeing on screen. Unfortunately, PATMO did not make much sense at all, and it wasted a fairly interesting concept and setting with its poor mechanics, and its need to give us answers that were better off left to our imaginations.

Callate, man. Just... callate.
It's hard to blame Paramount or this series' producers for continuing to milk the Paranormal Activity cash cow, because Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones has made about $90 million worldwide, not counting whatever it will rake in via Blu-ray/DVD, VOD, and rentals when it hits shelves in a few weeks. I'd make a new PA flick every year if I was netting that kind of scrilla, but as far as us continuing to pay to see these cheap cash-ins they call sequels, we'll be saving our money for other things, going forward.

In all honesty, if you're looking for some creepy Found Footage entertainment, go seek out and watch something like Home Movie, Ghostwatch, Rec 1&2, or even Blair Witch. You'll be far better served by any of those movies than you will by this one.


We totally didn't realize that Molly Ephriam from PA2 was in this one until after we saw it... our memory must be slipping. Sorry, Molly; we feel bad for not immediately recognizing your beauty.

1 comment :

  1. LOL, this was my favorite installment. Oh, and Home Movie or Ghostwatch, those are the worst of the bunch lol.
    And not like you can't simply suspend belief on why they are still filming, like it's just a movie man, so what if they are filming, Why on Earth that actually seems to bother people I will never, ever understand. That being said, I'll say it again, that there are a small group of people out there that would actually film under ANY condition, simply becuase the camera becomes an extension of them. These are the people that go to war zones and film.
    If that is your only gripe for any FF movie, to me it's simply not a valid one, IMHO.