Hello to all those faithfully reading and hopefully enjoying this effort to make even the worst horror movie more watcha... aw, screw that - I'm not that good. If a movie makes you cringe because yet another batch of unlikable teens that are pushing 30 are inching toward their deaths, having a party no one does anywhere ever, a paranormal movie is boring you to tears with unending pans of empty rooms, or thanks to CGI technology when people finally bite it, their blood squirts everywhere except on the victim, the ground, the people next to them... you're in good company and this is the right place for you.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

EQUAL OPPORTUNITY DUH REGARDLESS OF RACE, COLOR OR NATIONALITY


Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones (2014)

A major bed malfunction (see next entry) means I haven't had time to get my stuff together enough to get it up here despite having great dictating software now. I don't mind editing it for misspellings and punctuation either - it kind of soothes the Grammar Nazi in me.

I have a duel for worst movie seen this year so far between two very duh movies coming up that I will be reviewing with Miss Mayhem (her knees are shaking but she wants to try, so be nice), but I was being lazy yesterday (4/5) afternoon, so I picked this one out of all the bad movies I have a list of because I figured I could just watch it and not even bother to review it.

When this movie came out, the previews stated that this was a Paranormal Activity movie for Hispanics. I thought that was a pretty racist statement. Nevertheless, I decided to give it a look. You know what? We got ripped off. No, seriously, we all get the short end of the stick on this one. I've sat through PA 1 through 1,000 and they were so incredibly boring with their endless camera pan views through rooms of houses, just to have a brief flurry of activity within the last 10 minutes.

This particular movie not only had a story, it had action, interesting ideas, and a lot better special effects. What the hell? Did these people just make a halfway decent movie, get frustrated because they couldn't find a market for it, and so lumped in with all the other Paranormal Activity movies just to get an audience?

To add insult to injury, they do not consider this movie to be part of the Paranormal Activity series. They call this film a spin-off of the Paranormal Activity movies. What a crock! This used some of the same elements as the other PA movies, such as the basic premise of a coven gathering children, particularly firstborn sons, even though none of the movies have really explained what the hell they are collecting them for, and what the hell they're doing with them.

So. We start with a high school graduation in 2012. We see the class valedictorian Oscar give a speech, and we see a boy named Jesse being congratulated by his family on his graduation day. As it is a prerequisite for any of these handheld camera movies, Jesse is given a video camera for his graduation present.

Jesse, as is a tradition with many cultures, lives in a multi-generation household. His mother died giving birth to him, so he lives in an apartment with his father and his grandmother. Directly below him lives a strange woman named Anna. The whole neighborhood makes fun of her because she is so strange, having visitors at all hours, and keeping her windows covered in newspapers. Through the vent system. Jesse can hear moans, screams, and other things going on which he assumes to be something of a sexual nature.



One day he notices valedictorian Oscar visit Anna. Shortly after, Anna is found murdered and the police have no idea who did it. Pretty much the whole neighborhood saw Oscar leave her apartment and so know that he is most likely the culprit, yet not one of them is willing to speak to the police. Curious because I guess he has nothing better to do, Jesse breaks into Anna's apartment to take a look around. 




Together with his friend Hector, they look around her apartment and discover very strange items. Among those items are things obviously used in black magic rituals, as well as pictures of Jessie himself, one current, one as a child, and even a picture of his mother when she was pregnant with him. Understandably, this freaks them out. But they still keep looking. They open up a closet and find a ton of videotapes. Now if you have watched any of the PA movies, you're probably groaning about now because you know exactly what's going to happen.

In previous movies, in case you haven't wasted your time watching these, you know that on these tapes are pieces of the previous movies because this is just one big puzzle, or at least the filmmakers want you to think so. But fortunately, that is let alone. They find a journal. It seems to be filled with weird and mystical things, so they steal it because the duh stuff cannot happen until they start messing around with the supernatural.



Jesse has a girlfriend who helps him and Hector understand some of what is in the spell book. And of course, then they decide to mess around with it. His girlfriend spray paints the mirror black for some reason – she claims it's because it creates a portal from one world to the next – and the three of them sit around this mirror, chant some weird shit, but nothing happens.



If I went through this movie blow-by-blow would be way too long. So let me try to sum things up as they happen. Jesse finds a bite on his arm for no good reason. He finds Oscar hiding in Anna's apartment - there's a convenient trap door that Oscar pops up and comes out. By now his eyes are two black marks (very easy CGI work, not very impressive), and he grabs Jesse telling him that both are marked and Jesse must kill himself before he hurts someone. Oscar runs off, Jesse chases him, Oscar disappears. As Jesse tries to get help, Oscar apparently has jumped off of the roof of a church onto a car and is now dead.

Jesse suddenly gets weird. Actually, since he's a teenage boy, that's kind of hard to tell. Throughout the movie, unfortunately, there are some things that are very stereotypical and not very enlightened. One of those things is, that in Spanish neighborhoods, it is very dangerous to walk about in because of all the street gangs. I don't think they're any more dangerous than any other neighborhood. Jesse meets up with one of those gangs while with Hector. They want his backpack for whatever reason. Why they don't go after the camera – well, how else are they gonna shoot the rest of the movie?

When two of the tough guys attack Jesse, pummeling him while he's on the ground, all of a sudden one flies into a vending machine that sitting out in the middle of nowhere for some reason, and the other practically goes a block as he flies through the air. Hector asks Jesse what he did and Jesse says he barely touched them. This is the beginning of the 'gee isn't possession fun' part where they show that messing with the supernatural is harmless, and can be beneficial. I'm being sarcastic of course.



At least they didn't have one of those stupid Ouija board scenes where they play with it and then tell each other to stop playing with it after they told each other they have to play with it. No, for this one we get a Simon Says game. When they ask it questions, it will flash green for yes, and red for no. I am not kidding. Jesse continues to show supernatural abilities such as being able to do the 'Smooth Criminal' move better than Michael Jackson and his wires, and blowing up air mattresses with one breath.



As I said, this movie is dissed by it's being referred to as a spin-off rather than as part of the series. Especially since they incorporate this movie into the others. In one scene, Jesse suddenly runs into the black-eyed versions of Katie and Kristi, who of course were abducted in a previous PA movie. Suddenly Jesse sees something extremely scary, but before he can get away it attacks him, knocks him down, and completely possesses them.

At this point, Jesse is becoming violent and mean, because of course I guess one goes with the other, and Oscar tries to find help by contacting a woman named Ali. For some reason, she's the big time expert on demons. And this is getting a lot longer than I planned. So skip ahead, skip ahead - despite Oscar trying to help Jesse, Jesse is kidnapped anyway, by this supposed coven that's been the theme running through all of the PA movies. 

Here they called them 'The Midwives'. Why? I have no freaking idea. The two end up at the house seen in the last PA movie when the grandmother of two girls (already seen earlier) and a boy held her supposed coven meetings. The house is now empty, but just in case, Hector gets help from two more friends. Although they bring a 9mm gun plus a semi-automatic shotgun, they are no match for the women who suddenly come at them in droves.



Despite killing several of them, the coven gets the better of them, and it comes down to Hector all by himself. Jesse, now fully possessed, comes after his former best friend. Hector finds himself in a closet and sees markings of the covens triangular symbol that we have seen through all of these PA movies. Jesse manages to smash his way with his fist into the door and Hector runs. Running away through a doorway, Hector now finds himself in a completely different house. 

This is the house of the two little girls that he is already seen, whose parents have apparently also been taken by demons. Although when we saw the movie they were appeared to have been murdered. I'm getting a bit fuzzy on that. Nevertheless, for whatever reason, as the father tries to attack Hector, the mother kills the father and Hector gets away for some unknown reason. And Jesse is still chasing him. 

The ending is a big letdown. Now we knew from the beginning that Hector was not going to survive so this is not a surprise. However, the ending occurs off camera, which is a bit of a cheat because now we only see this freaking handheld camera shaking everywhere, lots of static interference, Hector screaming, Jesse roaring, and then finally the camera just falls to the ground and everything is quiet. Our last scene is one of the little girls leaning over the camera and pushing the stop button.

Now the reason I decided to do a review of this movie, despite hating the PA series with a passion, was because it had a whole lot more action, and a lot better special effects than all of the PA movies put together. That's what I mean when I said that we got the short end of the stick. 

One particular scene that I was very impressed with, although it did have technical problems, was when Hector, Jesse's grandmother, and his girlfriend tried to exorcise Jesse, but failed. The apartment shakes as if there is an earthquake, the lights go out, and by the time Hector can find the infamous night vision button, we're in total darkness. Hector flashes the camera back and forth, which isn't very exciting, but when he flashes back to the living room, still in night mode, we see the corner of the living room start to suck in on itself, à la Poltergeist. That was pretty cool. 

That particular effect was made even better when all of a sudden the lights come back on, and there is Jesse floating in the air shooting towards them, and destroying the living room by throwing everything around him and then disappearing.

My only problem with this particular effect, although it was the best effect of the movie, was that the lights came back on, but the camera was still able to catch Jesse and the destruction of the living room. The camera was in night vision mode. When the lights came back on, there should have been no picture on that camera at all, just white. But that was a small thing. I say again that this was the best PA movie made thus far, and that I really feel that this should be considered as part of the series and not just dismissed as a spin-off.