|Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Christopher Landon|
|Written by||Christopher Landon|
|Based on||Paranormal Activity|
by Oren Peli
|Edited by||Gregory Plotkin|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Box office||$90.9 million|
Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones is a 2014 American found footage supernatural horror film written and directed by Christopher Landon. Released on January 3, 2014, in the United States, it is the fifth film of the Paranormal Activity film series. It is also Landon's second directorial film, after Burning Palms. The Marked Ones received mixed reviews from critics and grossed $90 million worldwide.
In June 2012, 18-year-old high school graduate Jesse Arista lives with his father, sister, and grandmother in Oxnard, California. He enjoys the summer with his best friend, Hector. In the apartment below lives a mysterious woman named Ana, who everyone believes to be a witch. When Ana is found murdered, Jesse and Hector spot classmate Oscar running from the scene, suggesting he was responsible. The two investigate the apartment where they find black magic items, and VHS tapes and a journal of spells that can "open doorways to unholy lands."
After Jesse, Hector and their friend Marisol try out a ritual, paranormal occurrences gradually take place in Jesse's apartment. One night, the trio communicate with an unknown entity through a game. Jesse finds a mysterious bite mark on his arm and also discovers he has superhuman abilities, which is proven when he knocks out two thugs that assault him. He and Hector at first view his abilities as a "gift". At a party, Jesse takes a girl to Ana's apartment to have sex and encounters Oscar, who scares Jesse's girl away, and has black eyes and the same bite mark on his arm. Oscar tells Jesse that it's only a matter of time before "something inside them" will take over, and they will not harm those they love after killing themselves, before disappearing. When Jesse and Hector search for him outside, Oscar commits suicide by jumping off a building, landing on a car.
The group discovers a secret trapdoor in Ana's apartment, where they find a witch altar and photos of Jesse, his pregnant mother, Ana, Oscar, and Lois.[N 1] A strange woman in black enters but leaves after finding nothing. Jesse is lured to the trapdoor one night after hearing his dog Chavo crying for help, but the door slams shut and Jesse sees the ghosts of young Katie and Kristi before being attacked by an unknown force.
Jesse gradually becomes dark, suicidal, and violent as result, which disturbs Hector and Marisol, who later meet Arturo, Oscar's criminal brother. Arturo tells them that Oscar was in contact with Ali Rey, who had researched demons after her father Daniel and step-mother Kristi were killed and half-brother kidnapped by a possessed Katie.[N 2] They meet with Ali in the park, where she tells them that Jesse has been "marked" by a worldwide coven of witches called the "Midwives", who have been brainwashing women to give up their firstborn sons to create an army of possessed young men. Ali gives an address to where a final ritual is supposed to take place and warns that Jesse will no longer exist if the demon fully consumes him.
Jesse's concerned grandmother Irma visits a botánica and tries to cleanse Jesse, but he telekinetically thrashes the living room. The next morning, Irma is pushed down the stairs by Jesse and taken to the Intensive care unit. While Hector and Marisol drive to the hospital, Jesse ambushes them in the street and attacks Hector, but Marisol knocks him unconscious with a bat. As they are attempting to leave, a van smashes into their car and kidnaps Jesse.
With help from Arturo and his friend Santo, Hector and Marisol go to the address, which turns out to be Lois' house.[N 1] When they enter the garden, coven members with knives rush in to attack but Arturo shoots them both, then urges Hector and Marisol to run into the house, while he stays alone in self-defense.
Santo is found dead. Marisol disappears, and Arturo is thrown into a window near Hector, having been overpowered and killed by the coven. Later, Marisol is thrown through a glass roof. Hector runs into a figure resembling Ana and flees towards a closet to hide. When he comes out, a possessed Jesse then appears and chases Hector, who runs into a room and shuts the door. Jesse asks a panicked Hector to open the door with a normal voice, but after Hector refuses, Jesse breaks down the door, forcing Hector to go through a strange brown door. The camera blacks out after he enters.
The door he went through takes him back in time to the household of Katie and Micah.[N 3] Hector enters the living room and sees Katie going downstairs to the kitchen. After unsuccessfully attempting to get her attention, Katie turns around to see Hector and screams for Micah, who assumes Hector is an intruder and tackles him, but Katie violently stabs him to death with a kitchen knife. Terrified, Hector runs away, but gets confronted and lunged at by demonic Jesse, dropping his camera to the ground. In the moment of silence, a witch appears from nowhere, picks up the camera and turns it off.
The film was set to take place in June 2012 but announced in April 2012, and was first teased in the post-credits scene of Paranormal Activity 4, a scene only presented in theaters. Though the film is targeted to the Latino market, most of its dialogue is not in Spanish. Christopher B. Landon, who wrote the screenplay for 2007's Disturbia, as well as the three Paranormal Activity sequels, was announced to write and direct the project, which has been described as a "cousin" or "ese" to the series as opposed to a direct sequel, prequel, or reboot. The film maintains the look of found footage, a style used throughout the Paranormal Activity series.
Filming finished in late July, after producer Jason Blum confirmed that the film was almost finished shooting. This resulted in the film getting its release date pushed from October 25, 2013, to January 3, 2014.
Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones was released on January 3, 2014, in U.S., Mexican, and Canadian theaters. The release date was pushed to January due to its longer and larger production.
Despite predictions suggesting that The Marked Ones would open at #1 in its debut weekend, the film took a close second to Frozen (in its seventh week) with $18,343,611 at the North American box office.
By the end of its theatrical run, The Marked Ones grossed $32.5 million in North America and $58.4 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $90.9 million.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film received a score of 39%, with an average score of 4.6/10, based on 80 reviews. The site's consensus states: "A change of setting breathes some new life into the franchise, but Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones fails to provide enough consistent thrills to justify a fifth film in the series". On Metacritic, the film has a score of 42 out of 100, based on 19 reviews, considered to be "mixed or average reviews".
The change of setting and tone was primarily praised by critics. Mark Olsen of the Los Angeles Times praised the film, saying that it "feels like a fresh start".Variety critic Andrew Barker celebrated the "welcome diversity and humor" of the film as did Richard Corliss of Time magazine who summarised that the film "provided the familiar cheap thrills but with a salsa tang." Filmink Magazine critic Eden Caceda applauded the humor and action, but claimed that the spinoff "lacks the memorable scares required for this to rate any higher than an above average horror film."
Evan Dickson of Bloody Disgusting was the first to give his impressions on the film, giving it a positive review of 4/5. Stating, "Fun, scary and remarkably cinematic within the found footage conceit, The Marked Ones might be the first Paranormal Activity movie that feels like an event film while you're watching it". Dickson also stated that it was "neck and neck with Paranormal Activity 3".
Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones was followed by Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension, released in 3D on October 23, 2015.