It seems like ever year Hollywood decides for a new month to be horror month. While you would think October would be the ideal month, this year January seems to be the time of terror, screams, and sequels. Perhaps it’s due to a saturated market and not enough weeks in October, but regardless here I am with the latest review for you. This time I’m reporting on the latest installment in the Paranormal Activity franchise, the first person spook fest that should have ended two movies ago. So grab a quick snack and prepare your eyes for a quick look into Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones or PA5 for short.
So if you haven’t seen a PA film yet, the premise is that strange events occur in a random house by some invisible force, and all is conveniently caught on security cameras in glorious detail. Yet what started out as a simple isolated incident, has grown to encompass much more than we ever imagined. The first movie did end on a good, although open note, but that just paved the way for more mystery and plot development, that gets partially answered with each installment, and more complicated as well. Number 5 is no different, though this time Jesse (Andrew Jacobs) takes the reigns as the demon’s target instead of Katie or Kristi.
Like it’s predecessors, PA5 captures all of the horrific incidents using a video camera, but this time swaps the stationary lens for an on the go camcorder, mostly manned by Jesse’s best friend Hector (Jorge Diaz). For some reason shaky camcorder scenes that mimic an earthquake, have become a popular technique. This reviewer though has grown tired of such antics, wishing for the madness to stop. Yes, I understand that it allows for more scaring opportunities, while also bringing you into the perspective of the character. However, I’m sure plenty of people could get the same experience, and probably more detail, from a more stationary camera. Maybe the shaky camera is also meant to deprive the audience of a clear image of the demons, whether by technique or laziness, and allow imagination to paint the picture for you. Forcing the audience to create the monster is something I applaud, but just like Jaws, the monster will need to be revealed at some part, especially after 5 movies. While there are a few shadows, and a couple of passing glances at the possessed victims, PA5 doesn’t reveal much in terms of creature.
Maybe the story is better? Well at first I would agree with that statement as number five’s plot provides some new aspects. While the first part of the movies is nothing more than a menagerie of partying, Jackass like stunts, and some setting shots, it doesn’t take long for the pieces to start falling into place. A very graphic ritual scene starts the plot, with fans of the series recognizing the mark of the witch cult. That’s just the beginning though as Jesse and company dive further down the rabbit hole, a few more details crawl out from the mist. How do the boys get possessed? Where does the power come from? Who are the chosen vessels for this process? Of all the questions answered though, one big piece of information is what happens to the young boys, whom have been the targets in previous films, when they reach age. Amid the new revelations are a variety of references to the first film, perhaps there to fill in some gaps, or merely adding some nostalgia to connect back to the other films.
Despite the new information though, PA5 has plenty of gaps and unanswered questions remaining by the end of the film. What are the plans of the cult? Why are they so obsessed with power? What in the world is up with that door? Why the need for so many kids? What the hell just happened at the end? These were the questions running through my mind, but alas they remain unanswered until the next installment, which I’m sure is already in works, comes to the theater. Some may like such a vague ending, the ambiguous final shot leaving some suspense to have the audience talking afterwards. Yet I’m more partial of a definitive conclusion, or at least a little hint as to where the story is going. Perhaps I’ll get that information from Wikipedia when the Blu-Ray comes out, but don’t expect definitive conclusions.
Vague, and slightly cheesy, story behind, you must be wondering about the scares of this horror film. For me they were okay, but nothing really new that we haven’t seen in the franchise before. Most of the suspense comes from dark or silent rooms, sometimes filled with strange writing, often filled with a few cult artifacts, or at some points simply having a person stand there staring at the wall. Of course the random bumps off screen, as well as some screams, combined with a subtle musical interlude are also present, helping to get the hair standing on the back of your neck. It’s creepy yes, but other than the first person perspective we’ve seen these scenes before. The scares were predictable for me, the camera angle often so obvious to ruin the surprise they planned. Throw in the fact that everything grew quite about ninety percent of the time, and one should easily be able to brace themselves for anything that comes their way. Those looking for a scare though can easily get it if you turn the observations off, but by this point you might just be immune to their stale tactics. Rest assured though that this reviewer found the movie to be creepier and scarier than the Paranormal 4, so don’t let the bad apple spoil your interest if you have one.
Paranormal Activity 5 is an okay opening to the horror season, but by now you either are obsessed with the series or tired of it. While there isn’t too much fresh material in this film, fans interested in the plot will get some new information to ponder and discuss. Those that scare easily will most likely jump at this installment, but for others immune to such tactics enjoy the creepiness, or at the least a good laugh at the limited acting and dialog, or seeing a lady fly from a shotgun blast. One thing is for certain though, there looks to be a sixth movie on the horizon, perhaps the final piece of the puzzle that will fill in the remaining gaps to the mystery.
Movie Overall: 5.0