Anyone bored of the Paranormal Activity franchise yet? Nah, me neither. The original film still stands as one of the best examples in the ‘found footage’ genre ever made, and though the sequels have been getting progressively weaker, there’s life in the old dog yet. Box office receipts are rarely a sure-fire indication of quality. But whilst being made on a budget of around $5 million, this fifth instalment of the series written and directed by Christopher B. Landon, went on to rake in over $90m earlier this year, proving there is still a massive market for this oft-maligned brand of film-making. People love good scares, and ever since The Blair Witch Project, this method has proved the most effective method at delivering them.
Seen through the lens of a camera main protagonist Jesse bought in a pawn shop, Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones, opens at a high school graduation party. Jesse lives with his father and grandmother in an apartment complex above a woman everyone thinks is a witch. One night, the woman is murdered, and Jesse and his friend break into her apartment to find out ‘what it looks like.’ Yes, I know. But without the stupid people, we wouldn’t have horror films, so lets forgive them for now. Inside the apartment they find some witchcraft-related paraphernalia, books of spells, and some VHS tapes, one of which apparently documents the childhood of Katie and Kristi from Paranormal Activity 3, which was a nice touch and made for a little consistency.
After the ill-advised foray into the murdered woman’s apartment, Jesse finds a strange bite-like mark on his arm and begins to display some pretty impressive superhuman powers, all of which are (of course) documented on camera. After a while, it becomes glaringly obvious that something is up with the poor boy, and as he delves deeper into the mystery he discovers that he (and others like him) are at the centre of it all.
This extended (aka Unrated) cut adds around 16 minutes to the original theatrical version, both available on paramount Home entertainment, but none are essential to the plot. Which is probably why they were cut in the first place. It never quite hits the heights of the first couple of Paranormal Activity films, the plots are becoming increasingly lightweight and unbelievable, but the way the film is delivered and the atmosphere it creates just about makes up for any shortcomings.
The original version of this review is taken from issue 26 of Morpheus Tales magazine: