After the disappointment of Paranormal Activity 4 I was hoping they wouldn’t ruin the franchise with anymore sequels or prequels. However, when I saw that Paranormal Acitivity: The Marked Ones was due for release in early 2014, I couldn’t resist dipping my toes into the uncanny and eerie world once again. I guess that would mean that this franchise is my ultimate guilty pleasure right?

Whilst it’s the fifth Paranormal Activity film to be released, this one is being set as a Latino spin-off from the established series. Written and directed by series regular Christopher Landon, Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones appears to be an entirely new story – that is until the spooky occurrences begin to unfold.

Whilst I’ve previously told fellow cinema-goers that they could watch the films despite having not seen all of the instalments, I would retract that statement when it comes to The Marked Ones. Now, paranormal activity is a little complex, we’re five films in and it appears all of the victims are intrinsically linked – even despite this instalment’s spin off into Latino territories. I guess this poses the question – what do you audiences want from a good old fashioned horror flick?

Whilst there are some good scare and shock factors here, the franchise has lost its original creepiness from the 2007 debut. The shadows, night shots and creeping feeling of dread as the situation was worsening, paired with dark shots, bumps in the night and empty scenes added a realistic element which support the otherwise lacklustre found footage element. Don’t get me wrong, found footage is great for the horror genre, but only when it’s done right. Instead this poses the same old found footage question – why and how are they filming all of this? Furthermore, the sense of dread is entirely lacking – instead you get about an hour of the mundane paired with “oh no, I’m being possessed” to the crash bang of the final scenes.

Landon has taken the idea of the first born son being the prize for possession so to speak and added in some reasoning for the witch coven which we have seen in the previous films 3 and 4. Already confused?

Anyways, a young California Latino named Jesse (Andrew Jacobs) is designated for possession by the same malevolent demon who previously claimed Kristi and Katie.

This expands the ‘Paranormal Activity’ universe quite a bit, in a sometimes entertaining way. Except the focus of the witches, the idea that this has happened to another boy in the same town and sheer lack of worry / shock of the other characters make it at times frustrating, as well as a little comical.

And so it goes for 84 minutes with a few good jumps, although these are only the kinds of jumps which work in a cinema – watch on a small screen and you’ll be yawning at the film and willing your own possession in the comfort of your own home. The story becomes more complex and involves a coven of bloodthirsty witches [a vague reference has been made to these spooky sisters before but there’s no real reasoning]  and the confusing possession of first-born male children – which begs the question, why was Katie possessed in the first Paranormal Activity if that pesky demon is after a boy?

The franchise, which appeared to be losing its grip in the fourth movie, perhaps needs to put this demon to bed before it wreaks havoc in any other countries… or cinemas for that matter. I put my hands up and admit this franchise is my guilty pleasure, but I’m failing to find the appeal anymore. Although, with whispers of the film getting back on track with another Katie-centric “Paranormal,” the fifth installment, and going back to the franchise’s Halloween date and more familiar creative territory, maybe I’ll give it one last shot.

VERDICT: [rating=2]

About The Author

Emily Stockham

Emily is from South London and has a degree in English Literature. Emily is a marketing assistant who writes about films and music in her spare time. Horror and grindhouse are her thing – although she will happily watch anything if it means a trip to the cinema.