Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones
This series is a ghost of its former self
For his high school graduation, Jesse (Andrew Jacobs in his screen debut) gets a cool camera and a bite mark on his arm. This bite bestows some interesting powers on Jesse. He can leap great heights, float in midair and throw people across rooms. Jesse thinks he’s becoming a superhero, like Spiderman, and puts his camera to work filming his stunts, then posting them on YouTube.
Alas, Jesse’s powers won’t be making him the hero of a Marvel movie any time soon. They have a darker origin as part of a demonic possession that’s tearing his soul from his body.
And he thought getting a job would be the hardest challenge after graduating from high school.
Jesse’s problem began when his mother sold his soul to a coven of witches. You’ll remember this coven from the havoc they wreaked in the past films. When Jesse turns 18 (the sum of 6+6+6), his soul will be taken by a demon, turning him into the coven’s mindless servant.
Can Jesse and his friends find a way to stop the possession? How many more of these movies will people pay to see?
The fifth in the Paranormal Activity series, The Marked Ones veers off the standard slow-build scares for a more traditional exorcism approach. Writer/director Christopher Landon (Burning Palms) goes for jump scares, loud noises and gore. The movie starts out with a bang and ends with a whimper. The film’s creepiest — and its best, if fleeting — feature is an electronic Simon Says game.
The Marked Ones is less scary than ridiculous. A coven of witches demanding the first-born sons of millions of women is interesting. But where do these witches get their funding? Is there a National Endowment for the Evil Arts?
Landon can’t write a cogent storyline, but he does get good performances from his cast. New to the screen, Jacobs is an engaging presence as he portrays Jesse’s transformation from foolhardy teen to soulless servant of Satan. As Jesse’s wary grandmother, veteran character actress Renee Victor (Weeds) is wonderful in a role that has her speaking only unsubtitled Spanish.
Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones isn’t the worst of the Paranormal Activity series, but that’s pretty damning praise.