Paranormal Activity 5: The Marked Ones- This Time With 94% Less Annoying White People
Jesse (Andrew Jacobs) has just graduated from high school, and now summer has started he and his buddy Hector (Jorge Diaz) have nothing but time on their hands. Amusing themselves by playing Jackass style stunts and trying to make a viral video with Jesse's chihuahua, the pair soon move from acting like dummies to being a nuisance namely to Anna (Gloria Sandoval), his downstairs neighbor who his grandmother believes to be a bruja, or witch. When Anna is murdered in the night, the boys take it as an excuse to explore her apartment, and the deeper they delve into the mystery of Anna the further it draws them into a web that has to do with witchcraft, Jesse's birth, and even Katie and Micah.
works on a different level than the previous PA films. Gone are the long scenes of sped up night vision waiting for a jump scare or a practical effect to impress the audience, instead, PA5 moves along at a good clip balancing suspense, comedy, and, yes, unfortunately, jump scares. While certainly The Marked Ones is a horror movie, the suspense elements worked much better for me as the scares are mostly relegated to things jumping across the screen or appearing when someone turns around. In this way, PA5 fails, but the suspense of the story, the style in which it unfolds, and the affability of the characters goes a long way to make it an enjoyable feature. There were more laughs than scares for me as Jorge Diaz's Hector was an extremely amusing character without feeling like comic relief or reduced to a stereotype.
The performances were where PA: The Marked Ones really gained the most points. Unlike Micah and Katie, these characters I actually cared about. They were dumb at times, disrespectful, and often misinformed, but every one of them seems to have a good heart and a good head on their shoulders. Andrew Jacobs, an actor just beginning his career, provides great emotional weight as Jesse, the main target of the titular paranormal activity, and It seems like he could have a bright future ahead of him. His main co-star Jorge Diaz has been around the business for a while appearing in films such as Budz House and providing voices for video games Dead Rising and Grand Theft Auto 3.
Gabrielle Walsh, who plays Jesse's sister Marisol, was another first time actor, and, again, her performance resonates. I would also be amiss if I didn't mention Renee Victor as Jesse's superstitious, Spanish speaking Grandma. While she doesn't utter a word of English, her performance is pitch perfect and she conveys everything the audience needs to know without the need for translation. Victor has made a career out of small parts listed as "maid" or "grandma" all the way back to the TV show Hotel, and it is nice to see her show up in such am interesting and rewarding part.
I've tried to go a little light on the plot of The Marked Ones because I don't know how many of you have seen it. While it did alright at the box office, this installment in the series has been much maligned, and while I do think that the lack of palpable scares is at fault for some of the low ratings, Paranormal Activity 5 deserves better than that. The Marked Ones wisely didn't try to copy the first film (something that has been a complaint of many who watched the previous three films), but, in doing so, it would have benefited from a little more exploration of the brujah and cultish behavior. One of the things it does best is bring The Marked Ones into the same cycle as Paranormal Activity 1 without seeming forced. So anyone who was looking for an appearance by Katie Featherston and Micah will not be disappointed.