The Marked Ones is the fifth instalment in the Paranormal Activity series started by the incredibly successful Paranormal Activity in 2009. As with all the previous films The Marked Ones is filmed in a found footage style, from the vantage point of a camcorder belonging to two Latino teenagers Jessie (Andrew Jacobs) and Hector (Jorge Diaz). The film begins at a high school graduation in Oxnard California where Jessie and Hector along with their classmates including Oscar (Carlos Pratts) and Marisol (Gabrielle Walsh). After a night celebrating with their family and friends, their downstairs neighbour Anna, who is commonly held to be a witch, is found brutally murdered by Oscar who swiftly leaps to his death.
Shortly after the traumatic turn of events, Jessie wakes up with a bite mark on his arm and then develops strange powers including throwing two thugs fifty feet into the air and being held aloft after falling off a chair. However cool these things may seem (and they post the videos on YouTube) they soon take a turn for the macabre pretty quickly after discovering an occult altar in a hidden cellar with photos of Jessie and Oscar on it. It transpires that Anna was a member of ‘The Midwives’ coven who perform demonic rites on pregnant women and their unborn sons.
Whilst there are some original aspects in this film, including the use of a ‘Simon’ for a séance, most of the scares were predictable, like the use of night vision, having said that there were scares a plenty and the film built up tension very quickly and effectively. The Marked Ones sets out its Latin identity like a dog marking its territory complete with tequila drinking Spanish speaking grandmother, tortillas and Day of the Dead iconography, in fact if playing Latino bingo, the only thing missing was the Piñata (which they could have squeezed in in the post-graduation party). The relationship to the previous films is tenuous, only becoming clear right at the end of the film.
The found footage style of the film is well done with the camera rolling for reasons within the film, e.g. filming to put on the internet or filming at a party rather than filming purely for the film as seen in many of these types of movies. The (always present) night vision passage was very well done as the demonic presence distorts the camera screen.
The Marked Ones left me thinking that the Paranormal Activity franchise should have been ended after number three or four rather than fading into mediocrity with the same story wrapped in a tortilla. I would recommend it if you haven’t seen the previous four films as whilst derivative, it still provides a lot of good scares. The Marked Ones does not need the background of the preceding movies, nor does it add anything substantial to the movie canon.