Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones Blu-Ray Review
Blu-Ray Review- Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones
Distributor: Paramount Home Entertainment
Street Date: April 8th 2014
Technical Specifications: 1080P Video, English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Color, 1.78:1 Aspect Ratio
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish, and Portuguese
Runtime(s): Theatrical: 84 Minutes, Extended: 101 Minutes
The original Paranormal Activity was released in 2009 on a budget of fifteen thousand dollars, and subsequently made over two hundred million dollars at the box office. The found footage genre was nothing new, but Writer/Director Oren Peli was able to inject some life and technical ingenuity into the concept. While this sort of Horror series is not my personal cup of tea, I will admit that I thought the first film was both scary and entertaining as far as the found footage concept goes.
Fast-forward to 2014, and we’ve had multiple sequels in the franchise, every one of them making an incredible amount of money on very small budgets (though the total haul has decreased significantly over time). Unfortunately, like most studio cash-in’s, by the fourth film the series had become repetitive, silly, parody-fuel material.
The Marked Ones begins with our main character Jesse graduating from Lincoln High School, Class of 2012. His vast family and friends celebrate throughout the night, and we get the obligatory strange neighbor conversation regarding Ana, a young girl who lives directly under Jesse’s apartment. Odd noises and wailing are regularly heard but dismissed by neighbors in the complex. Jesse and his friend Victor’s curiosity gets the best of them as they use their newly acquired Go Pro camera to spy on Ana through the floor vent. Witnessing a strange ritual occur, they shrug it off for the most part until Ana winds up dead. After exploring Ana’s seemingly empty apartment late one night, Jesse winds up with superhuman abilities, and a strange mark on his forearm.
Like most movie characters with newly acquired powers, Jesse revels in exploring his abilities: floating in mid-air, increased strength, and even more confidence with the ladies. But this blessing quickly turns into a curse, as Jesse’s body begins to slowly change into something sinister. To avoid spoiling any fun for you, I’ll leave my synopsis at that.
While Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones does not break any new ground in the realm of horror (not even close), it’s certainly more watchable and unique from the films in this franchise that preceded it. The mystery surrounding the witchcraft and occult aspects of the story consistently drew me in, at least up until the last ten minutes where the filmmakers clearly had a hard time deciding how to conclude their tale. The ending of this film makes no sense at all, and really took me out of an otherwise decent entry in the series. While there are definitely some enjoyable elements to The Marked Ones, this is a rental recommendation at best.
This type of film is always a bit difficult to judge when it comes to picture quality, simply because it looks rather terrible, but it’s supposed to. This is not some brand new polished studio epic to behold in High Definition. This is a grainy, rough, soft-looking, digital noise laden transfer. But again, this is how it looked in theaters, and represents the filmmaker’s vision. When you take into account, Paramount has done a great job in staying true to the source material and replicating the original theatrical presentation for this High Definition release.
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track offered here by Paramount is, again, faithful to the source material. This track will definitely not rattle the floors, wake the neighbors, or send the dog into a fit. The 5.1 channels, while never utilized to their fullest, support dialogue and increasingly disturbing sound effects very well for what it’s worth. Like most of the films in the franchise, audio becomes more important and significant as the movie progresses, and by the end of the track, you will feel as if the audio experience was well replicated for home viewing.
Paramount Home Entertainment offers up only one special feature for this Blu-Ray release. Titled “Found Footage”, the segment features multiple short deleted scenes that were left on the cutting room floor during the editing process. You can choose to ‘play all’, or watch the scenes individually. Specific deleted scenes include: Grandma’s rant (in Spanish), Cleaning Out Ana’s Apartment, Chavo growling at the closet, Jesse on ledge of Church after party, Possessed SIMON, Religious shop/Irma cleanses Jesse and apartment, and finally MEUS in Jesse’s room.
The entire segment runs roughly ten minutes, with the religious shop/Irma cleansing section taking up nearly half of that time. Though the scenes are interesting to watch, I’m not sure that they would have added anything significant had they been included in the final film. I would have enjoyed seeing a making-of documentary or even a short featurette included on this release, especially to give the filmmakers the opportunity to discuss their unique direction for this spin-off series.
As you can see from the “Unboxing” pictures below, this Blu-Ray Combo Pack from Paramount Pictures comes with a nice lenticular slipcover, an Ultraviolet Digital Copy Code, and plain blue disc art with the title of the film. The reverse side of the Ultraviolet code features promos for the previous Paranormal Activity Blu-Ray releases.
Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones, while nothing groundbreaking, is definitely a step in the right direction for this franchise. I like the idea of further entries in the series being spin-off films rather than direct sequels to the tired storyline from the original. If it weren’t for the jumbled and confusing ending to the film, I might be recommending more than just a rental for the casual horror fan. Regarding the Blu-Ray release, the video and audio quality remain authentic to the filmmaker’s intentions, but the special features are lacking with only a handful of deleted scenes. Unless you’re a hardcore fan of the franchise, you may want to rent this one first.