Let’s face it: The entity that harassed poor Katie (Katie Featherston) in “Paranormal Activity” and turned her into sleep-walking killer who murdered her boyfriend, sister and brother-in-law and abducted her toddler nephew is one heck of a jerk. It started messing with the minds of Katie and sister Kristi when they were little girls and just could not get enough. Thus, “Paranormal Activity” has become almost a perennial event, usually an October movie release in time for Halloween.
Part five, titled “Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones” takes a break from the increasingly terrifying Katie saga and with it the creepy and nerve-wracking anticipation that came with the point-of-view footage, just waiting for something to happen.
Christopher Landon, who has taken up the reins in this franchise fron Oren Peli, writer and director of the original, delivers his fourth screenplay in this series, with “The Marked Ones” being the first he has directed.
This story centers around Jesse (Andrew Jacobs) and his friend Hector (Jorge Diaz), two teens who have just graduated from high school in 2012. Unlike the previous “PA” movies, these two do not live in two-story homes with security cameras and devices. They reside in cramped apartments, presumably in Los Angeles. Jesse uses some of his graduation gift money to buy a camcorder, thus allowing for the point-of-view footage that is the staple of this series.
The result is 80-plus minutes of shaky scenes. There are no breaks from the choppiness of hand-held devices that were offered in the previous movies via views from security cameras and PC cyberlink programs. People prone to motion sickness may find this a queasy experience.
The early part of the movie, like the others, is calm, centering on the youthful shenanigans of Jesse and Hector, along with Jesse’s sister Evette (Noemi Gonzales) and friend Marisol (Gabrielle Walsh).
Residing in an apartment downstairs from Jesse’s family is a creepy older woman, Anna (Gloria Sandoval). She is unfriendly, and weird noises emanate from her unit at night. When the teens use the camcorder to do some voyeuristic peeping in Anna’s place, they witness an exciting but ominous ritual. Adding to the mystery, Oscar (Carlos Pratts), who was valedictorian of Jesse’s and Hector’s graduating class, is seen leaving Anna’s apartment, looking agitated.
One day Jesse wakes up with a mysterious injury on his forearm, and when Anna is murdered in her apartment, Jesse and Hector, drawn by morbid curiosity, break into the apartment to look around, and find all sorts of puzzling things. Jesse starts experiencing changes that at first seem cool and amusing but grow more terrifying. Meanwhile strange things begin to occur and before long, Hector and Marisol are forced to investigate further and take more chances in an effort to save Jesse.
As in “PA” entries 2 through 4, the final moments really escalate in terror and Landon’s story takes us to a place that is sure to spark many discussions as to how this all ties in with Katie and Kristi. And it guarantees yet another “Paranormal Activity” will be forthcoming.
All the young actors in “The Marked Ones” are very convincing, and it is a marvel how filmmakers are able to blend in the special effects into the comcorder point-of-view format. “The Marked Ones” has a different tone than its previous stories. The scares are more of the jump-on-your-seat types than the kind that send chills up the spine. But either way, “Paranormal Activity,” even with its miscues in earlier movies, has the goods to get under your skin.