Sunday, January 5, 2014

Review: Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones

Image courtesy of Paramount Pictures.
Another year, another "Paranormal Activity" movie. To be fair, director Christopher Landon and company attempt to do a little something different with this latest entry into the franchise by setting it in a Latino community in Los Angeles and introducing us to completely different characters.

In this film, a young man named Jesse (Andrew Jacobs) and his friend, Hector (Jorge Diaz), begin investigating some strange goings-on in the apartment of a creepy woman that lives below them and the pair quickly find themselves mixed up with the coven sort-of involved in the previous "Paranormal Activity" films.

If this new film provides any relief from the doldrums that slowly crept into the previous entries, it's the new characters, who are - at least - mildly amusing. I laughed at least once during a characters' reference to Sherlock Holmes. You have to see it to know what I mean. Then again, better not.

But while the picture is slightly funnier than recent entries and has a few genuinely creepy moments, it follows the same tired formula as the other "Paranormal" movies. That means, there's lots of seemingly never ending sequences during which characters walk, camera facing forward, into creepy rooms where no reasonable person would go. Noises are occasionally heard, objects move slightly due to the breeze or otherworldly elements and then, as is to be expected, something jumps into the camera's lens, but only once in a while.

The film's story follows the exact same patterns as those of the previous films and pretty much ends the exact same way as all the others. I'm not really giving anything away by saying this as the series appears to pride itself on its reliably formulaic plot lines.

The found footage genre started out well enough - "The Blair Witch Project" was pretty frightening and original - and there have been some imaginative entries along the way - "Cloverfield," for instance. But it does not take a whole lot of talent and effort to sneak around in dark rooms with a handheld camera and make noises in the background. Sure, it may cause you to cover your eyes from whatever horrific image you believe to be coming next, but it's a cheap thrill.

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