The Cinefessions crew loves sharing their opinions on films, but not every movie can get the attention it deserves with a full review. Enter the Cinefessions’ Capsule Reviews. These capsule reviews cover five of the most important aspects of a film, which allow the crew to deliver their opinions on any movie clearly, decisively, and with brevity. These are not our full thoughts on any film, just a highlighting of the major pros and/or cons.


Paranormal Activity The Marked OnesTitle: Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones (2014)
Director: Christopher Landon
Runtime: 101 minutes

Story & Script
A trio of friends start experiencing paranormal activity after their creepy neighbor is killed. They have no explanation for the murder, but suspect that their friend from high school is to blame. Instead of trying to find him, they head to an abandoned church to try and summon spirits using a ritual they found while breaking into the dead neighbor’s apartment. What could possibly go wrong?

What’s oddest about The Marked Ones is how different it is from the first four films. This movie focuses on a group of recently graduated teenagers goofing around, even playing with their newfound “powers”, where the others are about a family trying to figure out what is going on around them. For the first 45-minutes of the movie, if they’ve figured out something strange is happening, they don’t care at all. It all comes down to the final 20 or so minutes of the film before the movie is finally linked to the rest of the series. And, admittedly, that connection was my favorite part.

Acting
The Marked Ones focuses in on the three friends, and they’re all solid actors that do a great job of accepting the given circumstances of the script. The supporting characters are good as well, with the grandmother being a standout. She never speaks a word of English, but still manages to be engaging and interesting to a viewer that doesn’t speak a lick of Spanish. I loved seeing some special cameos that will remain unnamed as well.

Direction
The Marked Ones could have cut out the final 20-minutes of the film, and dropped the Paranormal Activity moniker, and no one would have batted an eye. Not only is the link to the other films only evident at that point (yes, I know there is a connection to the second film a bit earlier, but that is small and only there to push the end of the film forward), but it just doesn’t feel like a Paranormal Activity film, and that would fall on director Christopher Landon’s shoulders. This isn’t a terrible thing, mind, but seeing as this film is supposed to take place in the same universe as these other movies, it would be cool to see some of the same “rules” apply. For example, watching the teens play, for lack of a better word, with the demon was just an odd choice. The real problem with the film, though, is in the pacing. The opening of the film lasts way too long, the middle is too short, and then the ending is too long.

Intangibles
It says a lot about the film when I say that I actually liked the teenage characters of tis film. They’re genuinely funny, and I just liked spending time with them. That’s a nod to the casting director.

Rewatchability
If I was going to go back and re-watch all of these again before the latest entry was released, I wouldn’t be upset to watch The Marked Ones again.

The Verdict
Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones is  a mediocre horror film that is made a bit better by its ending, which is one of the few ways that it ties into the rest of the series. It is a definite step up from the boring film that was Paranormal Activity 4, but nowhere as good as the second and third outings. The biggest issue is the pacing, which could have been corrected with a couple more script rewrites, and some stronger directorial choices.

two_and_a_half_stars


Branden Chowen
Editor-in-Chief at Cinefessions

Branden has been a film fan since he was young, roaming the halls of Blockbuster Video, trying to find the grossest, scariest looking VHS covers to rent and watch alone in the basement. It wasn’t until recently, though, that Branden started seeking out the classics of cinema, and began to develop his true passion for the art form. Branden approaches each film with the unique perspective of having studied the art from the inside, having both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in acting. He has been a film critic since 2010, and has previously written for Inside Pulse Movies, We Love Cult, and Diehard Gamefan. His biggest achievement as a film critic, to date, has been founding Cinefessions and turning it from a personal blog to a true film website, housing hundreds of film and television reviews, and dozens of podcasts.