Retro Review- Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones Unrated

BY JOHN CARTER JR

It’s that time of year again and in honor of ‘spooky season’ we take a look back at one of the most critically underrated horror franchises, yet highly successful at the box office: the Paranormal Activity franchise.

One of the stand-out films of the franchise is Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones Unrated. Those not nodding along in disagreement can take a seat, as we go over all the reasons why this film is not only the best Paranormal Activity film but could work as a standalone horror classic. 

The film starts at the main protagonist Jesse’s (Portrayed by Andrew Jacobs) and his best friend Hector’s (portrayed by Jorge Diaz) graduation. Jesse listens to his classmate Oscar (portrayed by Carlos Pratts) speak of the future and while hopeful Oscar soon becomes victim to the same darkness awaiting the main cast. Soon after Jesse celebrates a party with his family and community setting the mood of the film as personal and family oriented. 

The outcome of Jesse’s journey is set into motion when he and his friend Hector go into crazy Ana’s (portrayed by Gloria Sadoval) apartment. She is known to be a “Bruja” or witch and is the main catalyst for Jesse’s possession and demise, as well as the main bridge between this installment and the others.

Let’s examine how this film distinguishes itself from previous installments in the franchise. Firstly, this found-footage piece becomes very personal as the lead characters of the film carry their camera throughout most of the scenes. Not relying on the Five Nights at Freddy’s style camera setup that most of the films had been known for. This style of camera movement allowed for the characters in the film to not only get up close and personal but also improved upon the energy conveyed throughout the film. This made the film feel more alive and representative of the intriguing youth the main cast had to offer.

By branching away from the typical Paranormal Activity cast of affluent white families and covering a working class Latino community, the film establishes a major emotional investment with its audience. In previous installments, while the jump scares of demonic possession were certainly there, it hardly had any impact when characters were slain, but here because we understand the plights of Jesse, his best friend Hector, Marisol (portrayed by Gabrielle Walsh), Oscar, his Abuela and Chavo (portrayed by a chihuahua) the scares become all the more personal. 

This investment comes from knowing their struggle and understanding that they could be your own family. As a Latino this certainly elicited the feeling that these guys could be my cousins or friends but moreover they relate to a wider audience of working class americans as well. Anyone would want to be their friends.

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones could very well have been its own film if it had it excluded the slightly stuffed connections to previous installments in the franchise. However while it doesn’t detract from the overall enjoyment of the film it may have adjusted audience interpretation of the quality of the work given its association with a franchise composed of lesser films. The film, its mysteries, and the spiritual Latino Catholic influence make for something standalone and standout. The presence of Abuela Irma, portrayed by Renee Victor,  is something akin to Lin Shaye’s performance as Elsie Rainier of Insidious. Her role in the story further connects the audience to the film’s world.

In conclusion Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones Unrated is not only underrated it should be referred to as a found footage classic. It is impressive in its ability to be personal and is representative of a community in the United States that is more than welcome on the screen especially in the horror genre. The film excels at camera movement in its ability to convey energy, its emotional investment in its characters through understanding their struggles as working class, and its representation of spirituality through the presence of characters like Irma. 

Le doy a esta película ocho de diez estrellas!

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