Remember when people just used to get lost in the woods and tape it? Oh, the days.
After recently graduating from high-school, Hispanic L.A. teen Jesse (Andrew Jacobs) gets a new video-camera that he intends to lug around with him as he, and his buddy Arturo (Richard Cabral), hang out, have a good time and just party like it’s the last summer they may ever have together. And with what they’re about to find out concerning their creepy neighbors, it might very well be. Living underneath Jesse are a bunch of quiet and strange people who keep to themselves, don’t bother anyone and heck, even have long, winding-sheets of newspaper covering their windows. The reason for their seclusion is unknown, but Jesse and Arturo think they have an idea why once they begin to start hearing some strange sounds coming from the place. Then, an even stranger occurrence happens when the class valedictorian runs right out of the place, and away from a murder-scene in which he may have, or may not have had a thing to do with. Ultimately, this really gets Jesse and Arturo as curious as cats, so they both decide to see what’s really going on down-below and what they find out, is surely not pretty.
Another year is upon us, which also means, another Paranormal Activity movie. However, this one is different, if only slightly. Rather than being a story based on the mythology that we already know from past installments, The Marked Ones starts us off fresh, new and quite promising, especially considering that what we have here are a bunch of Latino characters that yes, are made to appeal to the Hispanic-demographic that may want to venture out and see this, but also give us some new tricks and trades that we haven’t quite seen before from the other installments. And for a good chunk of this flick, I have to say, things were looking all bright and shiny.
Although, it must also be said that I am a huge fan of these movies, mostly because I’m just a sucker for “found-footage” flicks in general. They get me everytime, and even though the last PA movie showed that there was a bit of a lag in terms of quality and quantity, I still wasn’t all that pissed-off with it to the point of where I had practically given up all hope on this franchise. Sure, it’s starting to die down and show its stretch-marks, but I still fall for the same scares, same laughs and same mythology that seems to be expanding even more and more as the flicks come on by.
However, with this movie, I think I may have about had it all, for the simple fact that what I didn’t think was going to happen to this movie after the first two-halves, sadly did and it was a bore to watch.
But like I was saying before though, the first hour of this movie actually works. It doesn’t always make perfect sense in my mind as to why the hell these characters constantly continue to bring this camera around with them, even when they’re out shooting some hoops, but for the most part, it stayed somewhat believable. Also, there was some nifty ideas brought to the table here in terms of Simon Says game that acts as like a Ouija board in which Jesse actually has a discussion with it and brings out some surprising chills. Doesn’t quite make sense, and definitely seems a tad goofy in hindsight, but for the movie, it worked and showed that with the right direction, this franchise can still do some things to surprise us.
Another aspect of this movie that surprised me was how attuned to character-development this movie was, and how not all of it was chintzy. Jesse isn’t the type of character that will necessarily be remembered forever and ever like Micah or Katie were, but he still is definitely likable and easy to root for, especially when you take into consideration that he’s just a teen, doing teen stuff. He likes to get drunk, get high, get girlies, get into parties, cause a little havoc and just see what’s going on with people that live around him. In fact, he’s pretty damn human I’d say. Same goes for Arturo, his best buddy, who also benefits highly from having a good actor in his role. Though I’ve never seen him in anything before, something tells me that Richard Cabral may be able to break-out of this alive and have a steady-career for himself. It has yet to be seen that one of these movies can actually NOT pigeon-hole someone for the rest of their lives, but I think Cabral may be able to given the fact that he steals just about every scene he’s in here, and also never seems like a bad kid, despite always lingering around Jesse and mooching off of him. Let’s wait and see how life pans-out for this kid, folks.
Despite all of this good stuff being said, there’s still something in the middle that didn’t work so well for me like the first-half was. I don’t want to necessarily give away, other than to say that the movie takes a sudden turn for the worst and gets darker, but not in a good, hard-R way that it should have gone. What I mean is that everything gets pretty conventional after this switch occurs and we start to see most of the scares coming from a mile away, not getting scared of them, characters doing stupid things that aren’t as funny as they used to be, and just a whole slew of other frustrating things that happen and make me wonder if this franchise still has any room to breathe in. There are a couple of jumps and scares to be found in the final ten minutes where, predictably, all hell breaks loose, but that ending…
Hold up, let me repeat it for you: THAT ENDING!!! I don’t want to give away too much, but let me just say that it’s the same ending we’ve all seen from these movies before, but rather than going out with a total bang, leaving us alone, scared and in dire need of some warmth from a nearby citizen, it will most likely just leave you scratching your head. Through someway, this movie finds itself connecting to the rest of the franchise in a way that feels more desperate than anything and had me feeling like they are really, and I do mean REALLY, trying to squeeze as much milk out of this utter as they can. I don’t know how long it will continue to work for them, but let’s hope soon, if it continues to go at this pace and betray some of its most loyal fans. Meaning me!!!
Consensus: There are some neat tricks and add-ons to be found in Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones that will have you feeling like there’s still some promise with this already over-long franchise, but there’s still not nearly as many surprises as there should be, let alone any reason for why this has to exist other than to make a lot of money, and just hope and praythat a lot of Hispanics will come out and see this.
5 / 10 = Rental!!