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Case Number 27189: Small Claims Court

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Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones (Blu-ray)

Paramount // 2014 // 84 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // April 7th, 2014

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All Rise...

If you hear something go bump in the night, it's probably Judge Patrick Naugle breaking in.

The Charge

Terror is inside.

The Case

Seventeen year old Jesse (Andrew Jacobs) lives in an apartment with his family in an unassuming California neighborhood. When elderly neighbor Anna turns up dead, strange sounds begin to emanate from her vacated apartment. Jesse enlists one of his best friends, Hector (Jorge Diaz), and the two set out with a video camera to find out what's going on. What the boys find not only chills them to the bone, but starts to overtake Jesse's mind and body, eventually leading them down a dark path from which there may be no escape!

What hath The Blair Witch Project wrought? The 1999 horror behemoth clearly had an enormous impact on cinema, because fifteen years later we're still drowning in found footage thrillers. It's easy to see why the genre has flourished. These movies can be made on cheap, the marketing can be done through social media, and horror hounds will flock to the multiplex in droves foolishly hoping the latest entry will be something special. The problem is it's hard to create an engaging story from people just recording things. There isn't much room for a story, and what little there is ends up squashed under hammy acting and shaky-cam cinematography.

You won't see me singing the praises of the Paranormal Activity franchise. Although these movies have been enormous hits, raking in untold millions for Paramount, the series lost me with the first installment. I don't remember much about the original except that it bored me to tears. Three sequels followed—Paranormal Activity 2, Paranormal Activity 3, and Paranormal Activity 4—all of which became box office hits. Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones is more of a spin-off than a direct sequel, and if this is any indication of what came before, I didn't miss out on anything.

Found footage movies are tedious at best, and insufferable at worst. Characters tend to film events nobody would ever really care abour. This means credibility gets thrown right out the window, as our heroes run away from danger while filming their terror, which not only stretches reality but thins it to the consistency of dental floss. Midway through Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones, a character with pitch black eyes and a sunken face pops up to terrify another character in a closet. Does this character drop his camera? Of course not, he keeps right on filming not because he should, but because the screenplay demands it. These moments turn the film from passable horror to eye-roll inducing ridiculousness.

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones revels not only in terrible genre clichés, but terrible Hispanic clichés. Characters spend most of their time creating events or watching them happen, all the while yelling "DUDE! ARE YOU SERIOUS RIGHT NOW?!" in blatant Latino accents. None of the characters are endearing, because we never get to know them, unless you count smoking pot and trying to get laid as character traits. There's also a Chihuahua here, because it just wouldn't be complete without every single Hispanic stereotype known to man.

Horror hounds, prepare to sit through an hour of tedium before getting to anything even remotely tense. Once in a blue moon, something creepy is thrown at the screen, but Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones runs its characters through a bland wringer of uncovering creepy VHS tapes, worn diaries, and empty rooms. The final twenty minutes offer a few jump scares, all of which are nothing more than natural human reflex, rather anything creatively impressive.

I suppose, if you've enjoyed the first four Paranormal Activity movies, you may get a kick out of this one. Not me. I'm swearing off any future installments of this desolate franchise. The only real terror here is that it made more than $80 Million at the box office, ensuring more sequels are on the way. God help us all.

Presented in 1.78:1/1080p HD widescreen, Paramount's Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones (Blu-ray) transfer is inconsistent, the film's visual fidelity fluctuating between acceptable and terrible. The DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio is a front heavy mix that throws in directional effects with every poorly conceived scare. Also included are Dolby 5.1 mixes in French, Portuguese, and Spanish, as well as English SDH, French, Portuguese, and Spanish subtitles.

Aside from a standard def DVD copy and and UltraViolet digital download, the only bonus feature is a collection of deleted scenes ("Found Footage") which are for die hard Paranormal Activity fans only.

The Verdict

The scariest thing is how Guilty this is.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 65

Perp Profile

Studio: Paramount
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
Audio Formats:
• DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Portuguese)
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
• English (SDH)
• French
• Portuguese
• Spanish
Running Time: 84 Minutes
Release Year: 2014
MPAA Rating: Rated R
• Blu-ray
• Horror
• Thriller

Distinguishing Marks

• Deleted Scenes
• DVD Copy
• Digital Copy
• UltraViolet Download


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