Haunted house movies have seen a resurgence during the past ten years and this is great for fans of the genre. However, it is possible to have too much of a good thing and this is what happened with the Paranormal Activity series. The first film (created by Oren Peli) made good use of its found footage format to tell a creepy story, the second and third films also had their merits but it was clear the series would eventually run out of ideas. When PA4 came out that is exactly what happened as the film was rather lackluster and a good cure for insomnia.
Now Oren Peli is keen to reinvigorate the formula with the next two films in the series, the first is this Latino style spinoff originally called The Oxnard Tapes and now known as Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones. The film is scheduled to be released in January next year, Paranormal Activity 5 is also due out next year around Halloween.
The Marked Ones features mainly Latino actors and is about a bunch of teenagers who have seen too many episodes of Scooby Doo. When a neighbour dies this groovy gang decide to investigate the crime scene for unknown reasons by breaking into the apartment. The place is a mess and there are some blood stains on the walls which is always a bad sign, the kids also find a box filled with videotapes featuring footage of Katie and Kristie (the sister protagonists in the previous films.) This little detail is a nice reference to events in the earlier movies and helps to provide a context for The Marked Ones. The group leave the apartment and days later one of them starts to develop telekinetic powers, he also has strange bite marks on his arms and starts spacing out while losing track of time. It seems clear the teenager is being influenced by unknown forces and this can only be a bad thing in the PA universe.
The trailer gives the viewer a nice but brief introduction to the narrative and also the lives of the main protagonists. It also contains some nice references to the previous films such as the videotapes and also some other details which will not be spoiled in this review. The Marked Ones has more of a religious theme than the earlier sequels and this is highlighted in the trailer. There are spoilers galore in the trailer too so fans of the genre should watch it with caution. It’s a very efficient clip that strikes the right balance between jump scares and expository scenes. It also has a good sense of escalation which is a key element in the series, as the trailer progresses the situation gets gradually worse for the main protagonists, this is a microcosm of the basic plot structure that is used for all the PA films and most haunted house movies too.
Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones is shaping up nicely and it certainly has some interesting ideas and themes. If it can also deliver some atmosphere and good scares then it might reinvigorate the series. It will also be cool to see if the found footage horror genre still has some mileage left in it and can still deliver the goods.
Eager fans can check out the film when it is released in January. Check out the trailer and share your thoughts.