The movie series that perfected the found footage horror genre is back with ‘Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones.’ So will you be jumping out of your seat in fright yet again, or will the fifth installment of ‘Paranormal Activity’ fall flat?
In past installments of Paranormal Activity, the situations and scares have felt so real that the movies have kept viewers up for nights on end. So after four successful movies, the latest in the series, Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones (in theaters on Jan. 3), has a lot to live up to. So is it an early nominee for horror movie of the year, or is it just a tired retread of the past films? Find out what the critics thought!
‘Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones’ Reviews
The Paranormal Activity franchise aims straight at its Latino fan base with the fifth installment of the series, The Marked Ones, and the changes — goodbye, white suburbia; hello, gritty diversity — recharge the batteries somewhat. But there’s no escaping that the found-footage phenomenon has gone from fresh and original to just plain annoying.
The Marked Ones is refreshingly uncynical and straightforward in its desire to simply be a movie that makes the audience jump and be scared. It’s a fun fright film and wants to be nothing more.
Unfortunately, a change in setting doesn’t forebode a change in tactics, and this Paranormal Activity still traffics in the same tired setups and obvious scares as the earlier ones. The camera wildly pans one way, there’s nothing; the camera wildly pans the other way, there’s nothing; the camera wildly pans back andohmygodthere’ssomething! A creepy sound is heard and followed; suddenly all the sound dies down and then ohmygodthere’ssomethingelse! Does anybody really find this crap scary anymore?
Functioning more as a mythology-expanding spinoff than a proper sequel, this fifth installment (the first directed by longtime series writer Christopher Landon) smartly moves the setting away from airy suburbs to overcrowded working-class apartments, and introduces a winning sense of humor that almost compensates for its relentless reliance on every terror trope in the book.
It’s remarkable how durable the Paranormal Activity formula proved to be, even though each film is a retread of the previous one. How much night-vision footage of people sleeping can any one viewer watch? Thankfully, The Marked Ones leaves that behind. In its place, it brings in dead-eyed children, a Santeria-style dungeon altar, a witch-hunting gangbanger with a shotgun (Richard Cabral) and a portal to an alternate dimension. It doesn’t, of course, resolve a ton of mysteries left hanging by the previous films. Who, for example, was that creepy Robbie kid in the last movie? It does however, raise several interesting new questions. Chief among them: Has the Paranormal Activity camcorder finally run out of juice?
So if you’re looking for a few cheap scares, strap yourself in for this one. If you want something more, maybe don’t? What do you think, HollywoodLifers? Will you see Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones? Let us know!
– Andrew Gruttadaro