Another year, another “Paranormal Activity” movie. I have to admit, I’ve been a huge fan of the series, but after number four, I wasn’t all that excited about another one coming out, and I figured I wouldn’t bother going to this one. But then, after some plans fell through and My wife and I were left without an idea of what activity we should take part in at the last minute. So we thought, Why quit while we’re ahead anyway?
So after checking movie times, and realizing we could just make the next showing in time, we rushed to the theater to continue the tradition of Paranormal diminishing returns. We made it to the theater in time to see most of the previews (because those are half of the movie-going experience. I mean seriously…) and buckled down for an experience that turned out to be much better than I had expected.
If you’ve seen any of the movies, you know the formula by now: Main character has a brush with some unusual entity, informs family and friends, they begin to investigate, and escalating terror ensues until people start to expire in slow a slow suspenseful manner, all the while remembering to catch every minute of it on camera no matter how absurd the scenario. This time the horror team shakes things up with the character Jesse and his family, who has had a couple strange brushes with his neighbor (who may or may not be a witch, which of course means she’s obviously connected to the witches of previous installments, but we’ll try to keep suspense going anyway.) After his encounters we experience the escalation of terror we’re all used to seeing. It is fair to say “If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all”. And that’s the reason I was surprised by how much I liked this sequel.
While “The Marked Ones” does feel similar to all the previous installments, it has a couple of things going for it that really redeemed the movie: The first is that every character in this movie is generally likeable. For the first time in the saga, we are finally relieved of that ass character who refuses to believe that anything unusual is happening. That was a relief for me, because the only thing more irritating than the character who insists on bringing the camera literally everywhere is the one who just makes fun of everyone else, making the entire movie generally dis-likable.
Another little thing I liked was that they didn’t bother playing up the found footage thing. Even though they filmed it on on the handheld camera, they didn’t bother to play up the “this is found footage and these are real people. (Really guys. It’s real. For real),” nonsense. For whatever reason it made it all more forgivable in my mind.
The last thing I really enjoyed in the movie was the ending. I have never really liked the end of any of the “P.A.” films. Even the first one, which was highly suspenseful, ultimately seemed anticlimactic (“Attack the camera! Mwa-ha-ha I’m an evil demon!!!!) But I seriously loved this ending. Does it make sense? no. Does it answer any questions? Absolutely not. But I thought it was brilliant nevertheless. Judging by the other reviews most people will disagree with me, but ahh man I thought it was great!
If you’re tired of these movies you probably won’t enjoy this one. But these movies have always worked for me because unlike other horror movies they practice restraint. They do a great job of letting “what you don’t see” be what is truly terrifying. This technique works for me much more that gore or imagery because I have a very vivid imagination that is capable of scaring me to death. (Hey, I just came up with an Idea for a blog post!) This is the main reason I still enjoyed “The Marked Ones.” If that type of horror hasn’t worked for you in the past, then you probably want to skip this one. If it is, then the newest “Paranormal Activity” may just be the same pleasant surprise for you that is was for me.