Now Playing: Don’t Be Afraid of the ‘Marked’

Even though it’s the fifth installment in the franchise, don’t confuse ‘Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones’ as ‘Paranormal Activity 5’. This is more of an off-shoot of the series that exists in the same world as the previous films. The fright fest (or lack thereof) goes a different route and caters to the Latino audience more than the prior entries did.

Director Christopher Landon, who wrote the last three ‘Paranormal’ sequels, takes this chapter in a different direction in tone and style. ‘The Marked Ones’ is definitely the funniest of the ‘Paranormal’ movies. We follow a couple of 18-year-olds in an apartment complex in Oxnard, California. Of course, one has a video camera and films everything that he and his friend do on a daily basis. When the old lady downstairs is murdered, the teens try to investigate what happened, during which one of the guys is bitten on the arm by a strange force.

Following the bite, strange things happen and we get a little homage to the found-footage superhero flick ‘Chronicle’, when the bitten teenager develops unusual skills like floating in mid-air, super strength and being able to blow up a large air mattress in two seconds flat with his breath. It’s quite comical as the two friends think they’ve discovered something very cool, but soon learn how very wrong they are.

After some creepy scenes involving the family dog and the old ’80s memory game Simon, we’re right back to treading the same water that the other ‘Paranormal’ movies did. We may want to yell at the screen and tell the characters, “Drop the camera and don’t go in that dark room again!” But then we wouldn’t have a movie, would we? It’s enjoyable to watch some of the camera effects that are used to create the creepier moments, and it’s a real treat to see how this movie is tied into the previous films with some great cameos.

‘Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones’ isn’t the scariest of the franchise, but it’s a fresh enough spin-off to keep people watching, and it serves as a decent appetizer until we get to the main course with the next official sequel.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

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