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Video Reviews

Plugged In Rating
Content Caution
MPAA Rating
Credits
Genre
Horror
Cast
Andrew Jacobs as Jesse; Jorge Diaz as Hector; Gabrielle Walsh as Marisol; Molly Ephraim as Ali; Katie Featherston as Katie; Richard Cabral as Arturo
Director
Christopher Landon
Distributor
Paramount Pictures
In Theaters
January 3, 2014
On Video
April 8, 2014
Reviewer
Bob Hoose
Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones

It's high school graduation day. And for Jesse and his mejor amigo, Hector, that means they're free. They don't have any great ideas about how their lives are gonna play out from here, but they figure they've got a whole summer to figure it out. They've also got this chido nuevo video camera to mess around with.

Besides, there's been some wild stuff going on in Jesse's building that's grabbed the guys' attention. There's this crazy woman who lives downstairs named Anna, right? People say she's a bruja—a witch—involved in all kinds of twisted junk. It's not a joke! Jesse's heard moans and screams from that place, for real.

In fact, when they hung a camera down through the heating vents on one moan-filled night they caught sight of a naked hottie down there. And an equally buck-naked Anna was drawing weird symbols on this woman's stomach with red paint-like stuff.

Hector said it was an occult ceremony of some sort. Which Jesse doubted until old Anna was dragged out a few nights later in a body bag! How could these guys not break into the empty apartment now and check it out?

What's inside? Blood, candles, little statues and symbols, and all kind'a stuff like that. And then Jesse wakes up with this bite mark on his arm. And super powers!

It's a good thing they have that camera to film it all. (But it's too bad we have to see it!)

Positive Elements

Although Hector readily and foolishly charges into a spiritually dark mess with Jesse, he later recognizes the evil side of what's happening to his pal. He and a mutual friend named Marisol face pretty threatening stuff trying to pull Jesse back from the demonic brink. And before it's over, even a pair of local gang members join in the effort to beat back this evil and defend the "innocent."

Spiritual Content

As is self-evident, all of the Paranormal Activity pics are about paranormal activities. But after all the twists and turns of the first four films, we're no longer simply dealing with unexplained bumps in the night caught by an unblinking camera's eye. We're now exposed to devil-worship pentagrams, death-obsessed iconography, dark ceremonial implements and human-sacrifice-intended blades and tools. The camera examines books filled with Satanic symbols and pictures, flashes visions of screaming witches and other snarling, sharp-toothed entities, and captures all the black-eyed, blood-drooling mess that you might expect from any other R-rated demon possession flick.

There's a Ouija board variation in the mix as Jesse starts communicating with and asking questions of the spiritual forces around him through the colored lights and beeps of a Simon memory game. Among the discussion points, Jesse asks if the entity surrounding him is a guardian angel, and he's quickly informed that that's not the case.

Clearly it's not the case. Demons and frightening black-eyed little girls storm out of the shadows. A possessed boy pulls long black threads out of his eyes. Women are cursed to death before childbirth. Young men are claimed as part of a dark army on their 18th birthday (the culmination of "666"). And a guy crosses through an inter-dimensional portal to be transported through time and space and deposited in an "unholy place."

On the opposite side of the spiritual ledger … well, let's just say another side of the spiritual ledger … are Jesse's grandmother's attempts to rid her grandson of his evil entity. To do it, she goes to a occultist who deals in "spiritual cleansing." We see her crossing herself and praying over Jesse in Spanish, lighting candles, counting prayer beads and performing an odd ritual that involves raw eggs. (Her actions prove powerless.) The Latin word Mues is written in blood on Jesse's bedroom wall, meaning mine or my own.

Sexual Content

As mentioned, after hearing loud moans and yelps that they mistake for intense intercourse, Jesse and Hector lower a camera down through heating vents to see a naked woman facing the viewfinder. (Moviegoers see full-frontal nudity.) Another naked woman enters the picture (seen from the rear) and begins painting the first woman with what appears to be blood.

Later, Jesse and Hector decide to take two girls into that same apartment to have sex. The camera stays with Jesse and a buxom girl who strips down to her bra. She crudely invites him to please her while they paw at each other. He lies on top of her, starts to unzip his pants and then runs out of the room in search of a condom. (The camera is aimed to get a full view of the young woman's curves.)

A large poster advertizing beer sports a picture of a very busty bikini girl. A number of ladies at a party wear low-cut tops and slinky outfits. While Jesse sleeps, Hector draws a penis on his friend's face with a marker. He makes a sleazy comment about wanting to get into a girl's "unholy place.'

Violent Content

Jesse and Hector's piecemeal video diary starts out with silly antics―such as Hector riding a plastic laundry basket down a flight of stone steps―that give them scraped knees and elbows. But things quickly get much more damaging, and eventually deadly.

Jesse is attacked by a pair of gangbangers who punch and kick him in an attempt to steal his stuff. He fights back with demonically charged power―slamming one guy through the glass of a vending machine and catapulting the other onto a park table some 15 feet away.

As his spiritual darkness grows, Jesse becomes increasingly violent and angry, slamming a seemingly innocent guy to the ground and ripping a bat out of another man's hand to smash things around him. He telepathically lifts up and tortures his small dog.

A girl is grabbed forcefully by the head and barely escapes being killed. A truck broadsides a car. A driver is yanked out through the broken window of his vehicle and brutally beaten. Then the attacker is thumped upside the head with a pipe. A young boy crashes down on a car roof after falling from the top of a building; the car crumples, glass windows exploding outward, and the broken body bleeds profusely. A girl crashes through a skylight and is left bleeding and twisted in a pile of glass. A man is repeatedly stabbed with a large butcher knife. A room is torn apart by psychic powers, resulting in an old woman lying in a pool of her own blood at the bottom of a staircase. Several women are blasted, point-blank, with a shotgun.

Crude or Profane Language

F-words and s-words tally in at around 100 each. God's and Jesus' names are misused at least 10 times, with God's getting combined with "d‑‑n" once. Male and female body parts are "discussed," with "d‑‑k," "boner," "p‑‑‑y" and "t-tties" all making their way into the script. We hear "a‑‑," "h‑‑‑" and "b‑‑ch." And a girl flips her middle finger in a friend's direction.

Drug and Alcohol Content

At two different parties (featuring underage drinkers) beer and alcohol flow freely. Jesse and Hector get tipsy at both events, and we see them swilling heartily from a bottle of hard liquor with a pair of girls. (The four then noisily stagger away together.) Jesse drinks shots of tequila with his grandmother, getting her drunk. The guys smoke hashish.

Other Negative Elements

Jesse and Hector share several crude giggles over sex, menstrual flows, body parts and expelled gas.

Conclusion

In order to keep the Paranormal Activity sequel mill cranking its way through to número cinco, the original story canon has had to unspool and get a bit tangled. We've seen everything from random demonic hauntings to ancient evil damnation to witchy coven puppet-masters to cursed/possessed first-born boys. Really, none of it makes much sense anymore (if it ever did!).

Through all that, though, the basic building blocks of this horror pic formula have remained fairly consistent. At their core, these films are all essentially an hour and a half or so of found-footage fright-jump pulp, pieced-together montages of I-got-this-new-camera-and-I'm-not-the-brightest-of-bulbs video clips that start out homey (and maybe a little randy) and then slowly become more creepy … until everybody's dead. Add in a septic stewpot of phantasmal and demonic mishmash. And then don't forget the thin thread of plotline connecting everything back to the San Diego house where it all began.

Oh, and this time tell the tall tale from the perspective of a couple of Latino teen boys.

Of course, this far into things, the director and producers are feeling the pinch of having to avoid the been-there-seen-that blues. And so they keep kicking up the raunchy language levels, the bloody carnage, the dark demonic possessions and, now, full-frontal nudity.

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