Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones Blu-ray Review
Jesse (Andrew Jacobs, in his debut) has just graduated high school. It, as the valedictorian points out, is a time of transformation. Jesse has no idea just how right the smartest kid in class is.
At his graduation party, Jesse makes an offhand comment about a downstairs neighbor and the wailing and moaning he hears coming from her apartment. Not long after, the neighbor is dead. And because Jesse and his friend Hector (Jorge Diaz, who provided voices for GRAND THEFT AUTO V) have very little ambition in their post-high school lives, they decide to investigate. Not a great idea, but then neither is using a laundry basket as a toboggan.
The morning after the break-in (which reveals a book of spells, a collection of VHS tapes and a photo of Jesse), Jesse wakes up with blood in his bed and a bite on his arm. All of a sudden, Jesse starts tossing gangbangers in the air, the Simon (because that’s something modern teens gather to play) becomes possessed and the family dog is on the ceiling. And then there’s the whole pulling-the-string-out-of-the-eye-socket thing, which the trailer used to creep out theatergoers.
PARANORMAL ACTIVITY: THE MARKED ONES is the fifth installment in the series, after 2009’s PARANORMAL ACTIVITY, 2010’s PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2, 2011’s PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3 and 2012’s PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4. (Makes sense, right?) It’s directed by Christopher Landon, who served as producer of various degrees for PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3 and 4.
Landon, who also wrote the screenplay, thinks the series can get a fresh face by ditching the location, changing the main characters’ ethnicity and adding a subtitle. But, really, it’s the same collection of tricks that the movies have been recycling since 2009. Jesse may use a handheld camera instead of the previously seen security cameras, but it’s still similar stylistically (only now there is more jerking). The filmmakers could set PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 6 (or is it 5?) on the sun and have it star albinos holding webcams and receiving hidden messages from their Connect Four and it would still, in the end, just be a half-brained rehash of everything before it.
Those that have stuck with the series may not like the change of scenery (and judging by the box office numbers—THE MARKED ONES is the lowest-grossing of the lot—they likely didn’t), but they will still get a kick out of seeing the various characters here that were featured in previous installment, like Katie Featherston (Chloe Csengery/Katie Featherston), Kristi Rey (Jessica Tyler Brown) and Ali Rey (Molly Ephraim), as well as the humor, which the movie has a pretty good dose of in the first half hour (as when Jesse inflates an air mattress in less than two seconds). They’ll also get a thrill from some of the spooky images (courtesy of the witchcraft plotline) and cheap scares, which is what they came for.
And it’s what they’ll continue to come for until either Paramount throws in the towel or another on-the-cheap, one-a-year horror franchise is concocted and vomited into cinemas.
PARANORMAL ACTIVITY: THE MARKED ONES BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: 1.85:1 in 1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. Considering the camera used is supposed to be a cheap one, it’s no surprise that the video presentation lacks strong details and clarity.
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio; French 5.1 Dolby Digital; Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital; Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital. Subtitles in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese. As with the video, the audio transfer is without depth, although it does make good use of the sound effects.
Found Footage (10:47): There are seven deleted scenes here, which can be viewed separately or as a whole. They are: “Grandma’s rant (in Spanish),” “Cleaning out Ana’s apartment,” “Chavo growling at the closet,” “Jesse on ledge of church after party,” “Possessed SIMON,” “Religious shop/Irma cleanses Jesse and apartment” and “MEUS in Jesse’s room.”