Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones

Directed by Christopher B. Landon.
2014. Rated R, 84 minutes.
Andrew Jacobs
Jorge Diaz
Gabrielle Walsh
Renee Victor
Noemi Gonzalez
David Saucedo
Gloria Sandoval
Katie Featherston
Micah Sloat
Molly Ephraim

For this installment in the Paranormal Activity series, we switch from a sprawling quiet suburb to a cramped inner-city apartment building. Instead of focusing on Katie (Featherston) and/or members of her family, we follow around Jesse (Jacobs) and Hector (Diaz), a couple of guys who just graduated from high school, but don't really seem to have much direction. Their days consist of a little skateboarding, smoking a little pot, trying to get into some girl's pants, videotaping everything, and avoiding the occasional horde of thugs who happen to notice that they're suddenly on camera. After hearing some strange, erotic sounding noises coming through the vent from the apartment below, guess where they drop their camera. What they see enhances, but doesn't quite confirm their belief that the lady who lives in said apartment is a witch. To cut to the chase, strange things start happening in Jesse's apartment, and to him personally.

Once again, we follow the Paranormal Activity template. Someone lugs a camera around while odd things happen and someone is possessed. Aided by the home footage look that permeates the series, the acting is pretty natural. It is a major plus to be able to say anything good about the acting in the fifth movie in a horror franchise. And it's true. Watching these two guys just be boys is easily the best part of the movie. Unfortunately, nothing else holds much water. The jump scares don't make us jump and certainly don't scare us. The plot meanders way too much for its own good. The whole thing makes less sense any other film in the series, and ends with a lame tie-in to those movies. Part of that is simply due to location. It simply doesn't work.

The change in scenery creates a big problem for this film that its predecessors didn't have. Part of what makes a haunted house flick successful is the isolation felt by the inhabitants. It's easy for neighbors to not believe you have ghosts because they may never hear or see anything. This fosters a sense of hopelessness in both the people living in the house and the viewers. The only people that might help are ones you call when times are desperate, members of the clergy or oddballs that fancy themselves to be ghost-busters. More important to the atmosphere of the movie, there really is nothing else going on. By changing to a crowded urban landscape the plot is instantly convoluted. There are too many people that could, and should, know something. There are also too many people who don't give a crap what's going on. There are just naturally too many agendas to present for this type of story. This leads us in the audience to more willingly question the events in the movie. Our ability to suspend disbelief is more seriously tested. When things are focused on the happenings inside a single family house where the neighbors aren't too close, it's easier for us to be absorbed by the movie and experience it. With The Marked Ones, we just watch it. Magic already fading due to the redundant nature of being a franchise with an installment every year, is now completely gone.

No comments:

Post a Comment