This one's

This one’s worth skipping.

*Gasp* Black eyes? On humans? That's not supposed to happen!! Dis film so scari!

Gasp! Black eyes? On humans? That’s not supposed to happen!! Dis film so scari!

*Wiseau laugh* "What a story, Marked Ones."

*Wiseau laugh* “What a story, Marked Ones.”

Question: what’s worse than yet another trite entry in a trite franchise built entirely around a trite storytelling gimmick? I know, how about one that the producers cared about so little that they elected to release it in the month of movies that aren’t even trying – January?

Yes, it seems to be a Hollywood tradition that the movies that are destined to be forgotten and ignored are the ones they release in January. In the US, that is. This seems to be the case with the latest installment in the Paranormal Activity series, called Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones. But I’m not gonna call it that. I’m gonna call it Paranormal Activity Five…ish.

I think that’s apt because this isn’t the true Paranormal Activity 5 (Oh but don’t you worry, that one’s already in the making), because this is actually a spin-off of sorts. A spin-off that, in all its “found footage” glory, at the very least differs in setting from the previous movies. We go from suburbs to ghetto as we get to know our hero: high school graduate Jesse (Andrew Jacobs), who lives in an apartment complex where a woman rumored to be a witch is found murdered one day. Jesse and some of his mates homies go to her apartment to investigate, as they inevitably stumble upon some spooky artifacts, black magic ritual tools and, of course, video tapes. Always video tapes.

The tapes tie this movie together with everything we’ve seen previously in that they depict the childhood of this franchise’s signature psychopath Katie (Katie Featherston) and her encounters with Toby. Y’all know Toby The Demon, I trust? Well, he’s back for more chaos and his new victim is Jesse. It’s up to Jesse’s buddies Hector and Marisol to keep things from going too far, not that this franchise hasn’t already.

By the way, if you thought that milking this film series to this extent was already pretty unoriginal, wait ’til you see Parnormal Activity Five…ish start looking eerily similar to Chronicle once Jesse starts using his demon powers to fling thugs around as the camera shakes some more.

Even though I am aware that this isn’t the first time Paranormal Activity has gotten a spin-off (Remember Tokyo Night?) its existence is utterly baffling. Even if you’re prone to reacting to movies in a fashion that makes PewDiePie look downright genuine and subtle, can you honestly tell me that you still fall for this shtick? Wobbly camera moves slowly towards something -> you expect something scary to pop out -> fake-out jump scare happens. About 3 times out of 10 that last bit will be a legitimate scare. Are you quite certain this formula is something you’d want to see for six consecutive films?

For what it’s worth, Paranormal Activity Five…ish is at least slightly fresh in that it takes us to a new setting with a different batch of character archetypes than the suburban family we normally see. It also treads “new” ground in that it features parts that are shot with GoPro cameras but it isn’t much to get excited about in the end and the way the in-universe characters utilize it is only interesting for so long. I’m sure GoPro appreciates the advertisement, though.

As I’ve said before, the only reason I continue checking these films out is because I’m interested in the mythology and where the story might be going. At this point, however, I wouldn’t be astonished if it all culminated in a conclusion that’s about as satisfying as the series finale of Lost. That’s almost what this entire film series feels like: a long-running TV show that takes too long to get to the point and on special occasions shows us events from previous episode from another character’s point of view. (The Marked Ones does this and I must admit to thinking that it was somewhat interesting.)

I suppose only time will tell if this will all prove to be worth it in the end. That is, if Hollywood are actually ballsy enough to quit making these any time soon.

2/5 whatever