I always it love when Halloween rolls around. Not for the costumes or the candy which are fine. My favorite part of Halloween is that it feels like every channel decides to show all the horror they can. From the old horror movies on TCM to the 31 Days of Horror on SYFY it seems like there is something for everybody. For the holiday FXX went on to show the majority of the Paranormal Activity series.
For nearly a decade Paranormal Activity has been one of the few found footage franchises to be a major hit. They've become so big that over six movies they have made $889.7 million dollars. That is over 30 times their total budget. Rewatching these movies all over again I came to realize that the best of the series was not only late in its run but it wasn't even a part of the series proper. After sitting through most of the series it turns out to be potential spinoff Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones. And it is able to be the best by being completely different from the other movies.
Brujas y Demonios
The biggest change, at least to me, is the location. We leave the cushy suburbs of San Diego and go a bit north to the streets of Oxnard, California. Setting things in an East L.A. isn't just a shift in location but it brings its own perils. Not only are they up against the supernatural but gang activity is a very real things our protagonists have to deal with. It gives the movie a sense of urgency to the film that the others lack. They also include things that are more specific to the Latin community that brings the movie a certain authenticity to it. For example at one point they got to a botánica to try to cleanse Jesse of the demon. Bringing in these uniquely Hispanic concepts is a great way to give this movie a unique voice without ever having it feel forced.
This sense of realism extends to our main cast as well. Instead of the typical group of 20-something suburbanites we get a trio of East L.A. kids that just graduated from high school. All having great on screen chemistry Jesse, Hector and Marisol are refreshingly not afraid at first. They all joke around and embrace Jesse's new abilities as opposed to fearing them. By the time things start going downhill you feel for them unlike a lot of Paranormal Activity leads. I also found them to be smarter than most horror heroes. Sure Hector and Marisol go to the witch’s house to save Jesse. The thing is they are smart enough to not go alone. Instead they bring in gangsters Arturo and Santo with them. Even smarter Arturo has a shotgun and isn't afraid to blast away attacking witches. These may be small things but they add up to make a hell of a cast.
As different as from the main series The Marked Ones wisely never strays too far from the series’ mythology. We get the return of Ali Rey from the second film who explains to our main characters who the "marked" are and what they have to do with the "Midwives." Not only is it a great way to connect the series but provides a really interesting update on Paranormal Activity's few survivors. It's also a decent hook for the spinoffs if they wanted to continue. Who else is "marked?" It's an absolute shame they never followed u on this.
Will 'The Marked Ones' Return?
Despite opening to middling reviews Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones holds up pretty well. Perhaps not the scariest in the series it makes up for that with its unique setting, cool mythology and genuinely likable characters make it a step above the rest of the series. Unfortunately with the series coming to an end with with last year's Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension it doesn't look like we'll ever get a proper follow up. It's too bad too. I'm always down for more movies where Mexican gangs shoot up covens.