Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones (2014)

After part three, I was probably one of the few people who actually cared where the Paranormal Activity series was going.  Although it was getting rather annoying watching the same buildup when I already knew from the first that it was a demon related to the girls' family I found the core story interesting enough and was curious to see how things would wrap up.  Unfortunately, part four did absolutely nothing to forward the plot, leaving me thinking that the makers of these movies were totally lost on how to bring the series to an end.

The fact that the next movie was going to be a spin-off, and not even released around Halloween, seemed to confirm it.  Honestly, by the time they got around to making a fourth, they really should have found a way to stop making them found footage, as they had stretched the concept about as far as it could go.  Not too mention everyone wanting to get a movie out on the cheap went in this direction.

Well, it comes as a welcome surprise that, though still found footage, Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones decided to avoid the whole buildup and just go for a story that ties in with the main plot of the rest of the series.

Jesse (Andrew Jacobs) has just turned 18 and graduated high school.  He lives above the apartment of a supposed witch named Ana (Gloria Sandoval) who keeps her windows covered with newspaper and from whose apartment comes strange noises, such as screaming and wailing. 

Jesse and his friend Hector (Jorge Diaz) purchase a video camera an a Go Pro with some of their graduation money, and with their friend Marisol (Gabrielle Walsh) begin to get up to various high jinks, some of which involved playing pranks on Ana.  They even drop the Go Pro down a connecting vent and see her involved in a ritual that involves painting symThis becomes more serious when they see their classmate Oscar (Carlos Pratt) coming out of Ana's apartment one night and, a few nights later, running out after she has been killed. 

Breaking into her apartment they find a spellbook which they attempt to make use of, performing a ritual to open a portal in a nearby church.  It doesn't seem to work, but days later when Jesse is attacked in a park an unknown force throws his attackers away from him.  Communicating through the game Simon Says, they soon find out that an unknown presence is following and protecting Jesse, as he soon finds out he can do a number of things that would normally get him hurt with no consequence.

The influence soon shows a darker side as Jesse becomes more aggressive and withdrawn.  After taking two girls back to Ana's apartment for some fun, their camera one of them is frightened when Oscar comes out of a hidden trap door in the aparment's floor.  This is recorded on camera, and Jesse, Hector and Marisol investigate the hidden room, finding pictures of Ana with Jesse's mom as well as Oscars and other kids.  Oscar then shows up, informs Jesse that the only way out is to kill himself, and does so.

The friends contact Oscar's brother Arturo (Richard Cabral), and it appears Oscar was doing research on what was happening to him as well as others.  His investigations led him to Ali Ray (Molly Ephraim), who informs them that a group of witches called the Midwives infect first-born male children with a demon that manifests when they turn 18.  A final ritual is then needed to bind the demon with the host so that he will appear normal.

As Jesse comes more under the demon's sway, Hector and Marisol enlist Arturo's help in going after the Midwives and rescuing him.  Of course, they are dealing with forces beyond their comprehension.

Much has been made of this movie having a largely Hispanic cast, and it is nice to see a setting other than a California McMansion.  I do think this takes a backseat to the fact that we get story this time rather than two thirds of a movie involving strange sounds and furniture being rearranged. Still, the found footage format has its problems.  You have to have characters who unnecessarily film everything, resulting in having to restrain unbelief more about how so much was filmed than the supernatural activities. 

And what is at the core of these movies is an interesting story that has slowly unfolded.  Too slowly, for my taste, as this whole thing could have been wrapped up by the third movie instead of rehashing the buildup every single film.  I still have my doubts that they really know how to end this, and don't know if Ghost Dimension is going to be another side movie or finally bring it to the end.  And, despite the fact I found The Marked Ones enjoyable, this is still a franchise that has outlived its welcome.

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones (2014)
Time: 101 minutes
Starring: Andrew Jacobs, Jorge Diaz, Gabrielle Walsh
Director: Christopher Landon

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