Paranormal Activity 5: The Marked Ones- This Time With 94% Less Annoying White People

I have a complicated history with the Paranormal Activity franchise. While I deeply enjoyed the first film, perhaps due to viewing it opening night in a packed theater, I've skipped out on subsequent installments due to my aversion to found footage movies and continuing stories about unpleasant, middle class, white people (I'm looking at you Katie and Micah.) When I heard the fifth installment would leave behind the main storyline and instead tell a tale of witchcraft, demons, and possession with a Latin slant, I knew I was going to jump on board for another round. I'm glad I did. Paranormal Activity 5: The Marked Ones is far from a perfect film, but with engaging characters, an original storyline, and even a clever callback to the first film, it gets Paranormal enough to get Marked highly by me. 

Jesse (Andrew Jacobs) has just graduated from high school, and now summer has started he and his buddy Hector (Jorge Diaz) have nothing but time on their hands. Amusing themselves by playing Jackass style stunts  and trying to make a viral video with Jesse's chihuahua, the pair soon move from acting like dummies to being a nuisance namely to Anna (Gloria Sandoval), his downstairs neighbor who his grandmother believes to be a bruja, or witch.  When Anna is murdered in the night, the boys take it as an excuse to explore her apartment, and the deeper they delve into the mystery of Anna the further it draws them into a web that has to do with witchcraft, Jesse's birth, and even Katie and Micah.  

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones works on a different level than the previous PA films. Gone are the long scenes of sped up night vision waiting for a jump scare or a practical effect to impress the audience, instead, PA5 moves along at a good clip balancing suspense, comedy, and, yes, unfortunately, jump scares. While certainly The Marked Ones is a horror movie, the suspense elements worked much better for me as the scares are mostly relegated to things jumping across the screen or appearing when someone turns around. In this way, PA5 fails, but the suspense of the story, the style in which it unfolds, and the affability of the characters goes a long way to make it an enjoyable feature. There  were more laughs than scares for me as Jorge Diaz's Hector was an extremely amusing character without feeling like comic relief or reduced to a stereotype. 

The performances were where PA: The Marked Ones really gained the most points. Unlike Micah and Katie, these characters I actually cared about. They were dumb at times, disrespectful, and often misinformed, but every one of them seems to have a good heart and a good head on their shoulders.  Andrew Jacobs, an actor just beginning his career, provides great emotional weight as Jesse, the main target of the titular paranormal activity, and It seems like he could have a bright future ahead of him. His main co-star Jorge Diaz has been around the business for a while appearing in films such as Budz House and providing voices for video games Dead Rising and Grand Theft Auto 3. 

Gabrielle Walsh, who plays Jesse's sister Marisol, was another first time actor, and, again, her performance resonates. I would also be amiss if I didn't mention Renee Victor as Jesse's superstitious, Spanish speaking Grandma. While she doesn't utter a word of English, her performance is pitch perfect and she conveys everything the audience needs to know without the need for translation. Victor has made a career out of small parts listed as "maid" or "grandma" all the way back to the TV show Hotel,  and it is nice to see her show up in such am interesting and rewarding part. 

I've tried to go a little light on the plot of The Marked Ones because I don't know how many of you have seen it.  While it did alright at the box office, this installment in the series has been much maligned, and while I do think that the lack of palpable scares is at fault for some of the low ratings, Paranormal Activity 5 deserves better than that. The Marked Ones wisely didn't try to copy the first film (something that has been a complaint of many who watched the previous three films), but, in doing so, it would have benefited from a little more exploration of the brujah and cultish behavior. One of the things it does best is bring The Marked Ones into the same cycle as Paranormal Activity 1 without seeming forced.  So anyone who was looking for an appearance by Katie Featherston and Micah will not be disappointed. 

Bugg Rating


  1. I unfortunately suffered through the others which ranged from barely okay to pretty horrible. Am contemplating this one, but not in a hurry to see it...

  2. I'm glad the studio decided to deviate from the other films, realizing they needed a fresh setting with new characters. Unfortunate that the story was not impressive enough for many who enjoyed the first film.
    A lot of people also seem to be getting tired of the found footage format. When it helps augment the story the way it did in Blair Witch Project, it's fantastic, but when it becomes forced, and at times confusing (At some points people are asking themselves why are they still holding a camera now?) it can be a real turnoff. But from a production point of view it's a cheap way to shoot, and saves a ton of time, so it'll be a while before we stop seeing found footage movies.


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