by Adam M. Wilcox
The biggest mistake you can make in any horror movie, even in an over saturated market as “found footage” films, is to make the audience detach from the core protagonist. The first Paranormal Activity, despite all of it’s popularity was a hot mess. The husband was a stereotypical asshole with control issues, and the wife was a big idiot. By the end of the movie, I was left wondering why I should care about either character making me wish that something bad would happen to them sooner. Also the build up dragged at a snail’s pace. Subsequent sequels got much better, by putting normal and lovable characters in horrific situations, often involving different periods of time. Where previous installments often included middle class suburban newly weds, Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones deals with post graduate Hispanic teens who live in the LA projects. The characters are at first lovable enough,and acting is decently believable, but the harsh reality of living in the projects leads to the inevitable truth that these kids will be mostly unsupervised and will make bad decisions without a shred of doubt or second thought. The Marked Ones is undoubtedly aimed at a teen audience, but that is not the real problem. The problem with this movie is that it dips into the forbidden cookie jar of horrible horror movie cliches and stereotyping is all over the place in this train wreck. Pot smoking teens, tattooed gang bangers, and overly superstitious grandmothers are just the tip of the ice berg. The number one mistake is the old tired horror movie mistake of when you go a dipping in the black magic…even if just for kicks….bad shit happens. The kids in this movie live upstairs in the projects from a creepy lady that puts newspapers on her windows. The story of who or what this women is, only is marginally explained. It doesn’t kill the plot, but it would have been somewhat nicer to have been fleshed out a little more. These kids seem to make bad choices a force of habit, and almost laughable at times as to the stupid choices these post high school kids make. After playing around with the black arts, Jesse wakes up with a strange wound on his arm and begins discovering a myriad of tricks and powers. At first it is all fun and games, and youtube uploads. As Jesse’s powers grow stronger, his personality grows darker, and his friends and family suffer with him. While still somewhat better than the first, this film is a huge departure from the last three, and feels more like forced marketing for a target audience than an enjoyable horror film. The stereotyping, the dumb kids, it all made me wish it had just ended sooner, and like the first one, I just didn’t care what happened to any of these people at all. 4 out of 10 cheese curds.