After watching the first “Paranormal Activity” I slept with the lights on for 2 weeks. I’m not gonna lie, it was a completely unique and horrifying experience. But as the series has progressed, and we’ve approached the first spin-off “The Marked Ones”, I can honestly say that not only do I sleep like a baby but I also do so leaving my closet door open and mocking Satan beforehand.
It’s not like this recent outing is a bad movie. It’s actually in this grey middle area where it isn’t as snore-inducing as “2” and “4” but not as keep-me-up-at-night as “1” and “3”. It’s not horrible movie, just not very scary, sacrificing boo for boom when it comes to its scares.
Starting off on a positive note director and writer Christopher Landon establishes the value of the series’ new setting—a Southern California barrio— with humor and relatable characters. Given the films fan base age, this is a smart move. Showing the characters messing around with a the camera as they film themselves dancing with the dog and using it for extreme stunts breathes some temporary new life into the franchise, making for some of the funniest moments.
However, this does create some tonal shifts in the first act. Going from random gag to plot build-up and back and forth kind of took me out of the moment, at one point laughing and the next a little creeped-out. I kept saying to myself “this seems counter-productive.”
But, as we all know is bound to happen after this many go-abouts, the ridiculousness sets in. Soon they start investigating stuff that ought not to be investigated while looking silly pointing a camera at every little thing. Most of the scares are a miss, but they get lucky once or twice. One notable scene involved a lead character Jesse (Andrew Jacobs) going into the basement of some witch, maneuvering his way through sheets and tarps, never knowing what’s on the other side. But then flat-out laughable scenes happen, like when they can’t find demon-form Jesse and he bursts into the living out of this air, using telepathy of some sort to trash the room. Really, you think having him boom onto the scene like Dr. Manhattan from “Watchmen” is even remotely scary? Have “Jaws” (or even previous installments for that matter) taught us nothing?
Then the movie ends as silly as many found-footage movies have done in the past: The last surviving character bolts though a house accurately pointing the camera at everything despite being chased by a demon, with a twist thrown in to make the audience go “oooooh” when in hindsight it’s complete idiocy. My hand was covering my eyes, but not for the reason they should’ve been.
As the credits rolled a little teen girl said, “That movie was pointless”, and though you can make the case that no one movie has a point for existing this recent “Paranormal movie does raise a few questions: Do we need more of these? Is the story really that interesting? Do the characters really need to point the camera at everything? Wouldn’t it be more interesting to have the camera fall underneath the couch, recording the finale utilizing skewed perspective? The answers are obvious, but yet the creators act unaware, and even though it’s not the worse movie of the bunch it doesn’t do its job and can therefore be deemed pointless. When a teen girl notices this, I’d say you have to rethink your strategy. May I suggest the demons hold camera, for once.