Blu-ray Review: Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones

STUDIO: Paramount | DIRECTOR: Christopher Landon | CAST: Andrew Jacobs, Jorge Diaz, Gabrielle Walsh
RELEASE DATE: 4/8/2014 | PRICE: Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack $39.99, DVD $29.99
BONUSES:
deleted scenes, alternate unrated version
SPECS: NR/R | 100 min./84 min. | Horror | 1.78:1 widescreen | DTS HD Master Audio 5.1/Dolby Digbital 5.1 | English, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

 

The Marked Ones marks a departure for the popular Paranormal Activity series in that for the first time it takes the creepiness outside of a single house, in a seeming bid to reboot the franchise. This time, the haunting occurs in an Oxnard, California barrio, after a local teen murders a witch-like neighbor. When Jesse and his friends try to investigate, which includes partaking in a ritual at an abandoned church, a few of them become “marked” with a symbol of demonic possession. Extraordinary, Chronicle-like powers ensue, while the marked ones descend into madness, all in front of a rolling digital camera.

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones movie sceneThe strategy misses the mark. What made even the lesser of the PA series so effective was the idea that evil was concentrated in a single location, and even despite the later revelation that it was attached to an individual rather than just a house, the horror came from the bumps (and worse) in the night and their effect on the individual in question.  Once the haunted becomes the possessed, however, the fear is transferred onto other, usually minor players. Not to mention that demonic possession movies have become rather ho-hum these days. Give me a door gradually opening or furniture rearranging itself in front of a dispassionate camera on a tripod over a snarling, wide-eyed teen any day…

As our lead characters converge at the home of Micah and Katie from the original movie, The Marked Ones nicely calls back some of the sets and characters from the prior films.  The climax may even present an intriguing new way to look at the series as a whole, though I’m still trying to figure out whether that was intended by the filmmakers or just wishful thinking on my part. Draw your own inferences.

Where this Blu-ray shines is the audio mix. Sounds emanate from all five speakers, with good emphasis on the little creaks and groans that go a long way toward creating a creepy atmosphere. The video simply looks like it is current-day camcorder-quality, which is exactly as it should. Much of what we see in the movie is illuminated only by the supposed light atop the camera lens.

While this isn’t a terrible entry in the series, think of it as Paranormal Activity dumbed down for the lowest common denominator – non-discriminating movie-going teenagers.  Hmmm, in that case, I guess it does hit the mark.

 

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About Gary

Gary Frisch has been contributing laserdisc, DVD and Blu-ray reviews to Video Business magazine, Home Theater Magazine, Home Theater Buyer’s Guide, Stereophile Guide to Home Theater and the DVD Guide for more than 14 years. He still has a collection of more than 40 laserdiscs, along with a working auto-reverse LD player, but thinks Blu-ray is da bomb and anxiously awaits the original Star Wars trilogy so he can buy it for the fifth time.