Unlimited Access. Try it Today! Your First 10 Days Always $0.99
Entertainment Movies

Review: 'Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones' has fresh frights

The scariest thing about some horror movies might be when "5" appears at the end of the title — little good has ever come from that.

So it's not surprising the team behind the "Paranormal Activity" films has gone an alternate route, adding a non-numbered secondary title of "The Marked Ones" on the franchise's fifth entry.

The wildly successful series of low-budget films have trafficked in a sort of charged mundanity, the movies' found-footage aesthetic based on the essential angst of "Who's there?" and "What's that?" in their shaky gaze toward darkened doorways and empty rooms.

PHOTOS: Movies dealing with possession

The new film shifts from the suburban anxieties of the white middle class to a group of Latino teenagers in an apartment complex. The change is sharp, giving the new film some much-needed freshness.

The series has a large Latino fan base, and in a way the audience has been the true auteur from the first film forward. Producer Jason Blum seemed to steer the series more than Oren Peli, writer-director of the original, and the result has been something oddly decentralized about the "Paranormal" films. Now it seems to make sense, business-wise and creatively, to tailor a film directly to the most ardent fans.

"Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones" picks up with new characters — teenagers played by Andrew Jacobs, Jorge Diaz and Gabrielle Walsh — who stumble onto an unsettling mystery when a reclusive woman in their apartment complex dies. They dig deeper, and it turns out that some of them have been unknowingly involved in a sinister plot involving black magic mysticism and possession for years.

PHOTOS: A brief hitstory of found footage films

Christopher Landon, who has written for the earlier sequels, directs for the first time in the series. His film doesn't have anywhere near the formal inventiveness of the third or fourth "Paranormal" films. It also has no such aspirations, as "The Marked Ones" is refreshingly uncynical and straightforward in its desire to simply be a movie that makes the audience jump and be scared. It's a fun fright film and wants to be nothing more.

The finale of Landon's movie has a smart callback connecting the new film to the mythology of the earlier ones. What comes next remains to be seen, but "Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones" feels like a fresh start.

mark.olsen@latimes.com

---------------------------------

'Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones'

MPAA rating: R for language, graphic nudity and drug use

Running time: 1 hour, 24 minutes

Playing: In wide release

PHOTOS AND MORE PHOTOS: Faces to watch 2014 | Movies ENVELOPE: The latest awards buzz DOCUMENTARIES: 10 best of 2013, and a new crop in 2014

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
Related Content
  • 'Paranormal Activity: Marked Ones' may scare off 'Smaug,' 'Frozen'
    'Paranormal Activity: Marked Ones' may scare off 'Smaug,' 'Frozen'

    A low-budget, Latino-targeted horror offshoot could steal enough souls to possess the box office over the weekend. But to do so, it will have to out-draw a "Hobbit" sequel and "Frozen," which are both enjoying a strong holiday season.

  • A brief history of found-footage genre films
    A brief history of found-footage genre films

    By Patrick Kevin Day, Nate Jackson, Lily Mihalik and Jevon Phillips

  • Review: 'Merchants of Doubt'
    Review: 'Merchants of Doubt'

    Don't underestimate Robert Kenner's "Merchants of Doubt." It may sound like a standard-issue advocacy documentary concerned, as so many are, with the perils of global warming, but it's a lot more than that.

  • Review: 'Home'
    Review: 'Home'

    The cuddliest alien invasion movie ever, "Home" contains nifty turns of phrase and some actual, verifiable verbal wit, owing in large part to its source material, Adam Rex's 2007 children's book "The True Meaning of Smekday."

  • Review: 'Get Hard'
    Review: 'Get Hard'

    An awful lot of "Get Hard" depends on gay-panic humor of a weirdly squirmy and dated sort, making you wonder if this new Will Ferrell/Kevin Hart mystery might best be viewed alongside reissues of "Cruising" and "Norman … Is That You?"

  • Review: '71'
    Review: '71'

    First performed in 1923, following an early chapter in that quaint, understated late 1960s-coined cycle of violence known as the Troubles, Sean O'Casey's play "The Shadow of a Gunman" imagined a crowded tenement house that becomes a microcosm of the Irish War of Independence. A key scene in...

Comments
Loading