Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones – Lots of Dessert, No Steak

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Photo Courtesy Paramount

Hector (Jorge Diaz), Jesse (Andrew Jacobs) and Marisol (Gabrielle Walsh) are three pals celebrating high school graduation and living in an apartment complex in Oxnard.  Jesse keeps hearing all sorts of crazy noises coming from the apartment underneath them, which is inhabited by a woman who keeps the windows covered, acts strangely and often is referred to as a witch (all in all, I have had worse neighbors in an apartment building).

Of course, Jesse and Hector decide they must investigate all of this, and video tape every moment of it (it wouldn’t be Paranormal Activity, or the year 2014, without illogical and obsessive videotaping of everything).  So, they sneak a camera into the neighbor’s place, convince one of the little kids next door to pound on the door and they break into the apartment when the lady suddenly dies, and their buddy, Oscar (Carlos Pratts), is seen running from the crime scene.  Wouldn’t you stop looking for trouble at this point?

Then, weird stuff starts to happen to Jesse, and the rest of the group is worried something more sinister is at work (AND YOU KNOW IT IS!!!!!!).

All of the Paranormal Activity movies have some element of shock and surprise to them, but the best ones found a little something more special and deeper to get under our skin.  Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones doesn’t do much that you could call special, and you have a better chance of bed bugs in the theater getting under your skin.

Writer/director Christopher Landon gives us a movie that hits some of the basics, but never goes beyond them.  Sure, we have a few moments where we are worried about what will pop out from behind the corner or what might be waiting for our heroes as they make their way through the dark, but it’s rote.  You feel like Landon is following some sort of recipe calling for a dash of darkness here, a pinch of rumbling there and a teaspoon of running away there, and he never fills the movie with enough of them to keep us on the edge of our seats (just enough to keep you from giving up on the movie altogether).

You’ll enjoy Jesse’s interactions with unseen figures and you may never look at the game Simon the same ever again, but those moments are few and far between.  None of the actors are asked to do much here, so you can’t put the blame on them, and Landon, like the directors and editors of some of the other weaker Paranormal Activity films, crams most of the big action into the last 20 minutes to leave the audience feeling like they have seen something more action-packed like a restaurant that serves an awesome dessert to make up for a subpar main course.

Plus, the hardcore fans get to see how all of this ties together if they are eagle-eyed and have good memories (especially when a familiar character or two show up), but I couldn’t shake the feeling that Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones is just another movie to keep the franchise alive and set up yet another sequel in the never ending pursuit of more cash instead of more story.

1_5waffles_sml1 ½ Waffles (Out of 4)

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones is rated R for pervasive language, some violence, graphic nudity and some drug use.

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