UK Release Date: 1st January 2014
Runtime: 84 minutes
Director: Christopher Landon
Writer: Christopher Landon
Starring: Andrew Jacobs, Jorge Diaz, Gabrielle Walsh, Renee Victor
Synopsis: A teen finds himself possessed by malevolent, demonic forces after a strange, supernatural mark appears on his arm.
I must confess to not being especially familiar with the internal continuity of the Paranormal Activity franchise. It’s always been a series that has passed me by, so it was with a certain reluctance that I sat down to watch spin-off Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones. That reluctance eventually proved more than justified, because the film is every bit as awful as I feared.
Jesse (Andrew Jacobs) and his friend Hector (Jorge Diaz) investigate the house of their witch-like neighbour after she is murdered. Soon after, Jesse wakes in the morning to find a bizarre mark on his arm that appears to give him supernatural abilities. As the strange occurrences mount up, his powers increasingly take over and take a more malevolent turn.
Can we all just agree that found footage horror has had its day? Surely there can’t be anyone that still likes it? In fact, after Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones, I’ve come to question why anyone ever liked it.
The film is an absolute mess of horror tropes that mount up until an ending that’s like a broken ghost train ride. You can tell where the scares are supposed to be, but they just aren’t there.
| “She’s got pictures of you. How does she have pictures of you?”
Critics have been roundly dismissive of the simplicity of what Nigel Floyd memorably called “cattle prod cinema”, but this movie makes it look remarkably difficult. Even its attempts to cattle prod the audience don’t work at all.
The characters are entirely nondescript. Jesse and Hector have nothing about them to make us care about their plight, and the supporting cast around them are even less worthy of committing to memory. Horror “victims” are often sketchily drawn, but this brings that lack of invention to a whole new level of blandness.
Later on, Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones stops being an attempt at crafting a horror movie and just becomes an exercise in lame visual effects. When a film that’s supposed to scare people leaves its audience doubled up in laughter, it has failed.
Pop or Poop?
Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones is an early contender for the worst film of 2014. In fact, it’s such a travesty that I’d be shocked if anything manages to match it this year.
It feels more like a poorly edited student movie than a Hollywood production. Funnier than it is scary, it should be the final nail in the coffin of the found footage feature.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.