Ah, the first film of 2014. It’s a found-footage dog.
“Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones” is more of a spinoff than a sequel to the popular bump-in-the-night horror-thrillers. And, what a mixed-up bag of goods. It borrows from other spooky film without scarcely a thought about the overall direction of the story. We got a little “Rosemary’s Baby.” A strong lifting from “Chronicle.” A dash of “The Exorcist.” And, a weak connection to a previous “Paranormal Activity” sequel. Nothing original going here, folks.
Andrew Jacobs plays Jesse, a good-natured kid living in a barrio of Oxnard, California. After a neighbor, rumored to be a witch, dies in the apartment below, Jesse, his sister and a friend investigate. The friend, Arturo (Richard Cabral), takes his video camera everywhere and films everything. Why? I’m not sure it’s explained satisfactorily. But, how else how would we have a found-footage motion picture?
It appears the witch was murdered by the local high school valedictorian (Carlos Pratts). Oscar (Pratts) isn’t around too long. His character, in a very few scenes, is primarily used to show what’s in store for Jesse after he gets a demon bite (like Oscar’s) on his forearm. Hence, the MARKED ones. Plenty of questions to be asked: Are there just two demons-in-training? Is it a wider conspiracy? Writer-director Christopher B. Landon doesn’t seem capable of providing any clear answers. The story is muddled, at best.
On the positive side, the actors are fresh faces, they seem enthusiastic about the material and make the overall effort at least partially watchable. It’s not enough, however. At my screening, more than a few audience members were ceaselessly texting on their cell phones all through the film. And, who can blame them? “Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones” isn’t scary or original. It’s just a reminder of better films that went before. Grade: D