The ladies love long eyelashes.

The ladies love long eyelashes.

I’m not a fan of the Paranormal Activity saga. It reduces the horror genre to loud noises and door slamming. Somehow, the rudimentary premise has originated five movies, connected by an overarching plot that makes no sense.

The latest chapter, The Marked Ones, marks some improvement thanks to a willingness to mock the now standard developments. While the first half is looser and even amusing, the second brings the movie back to the fold, to the same previously seen grooves.

Set in a Latino quarter of Los Angeles, the movie follows three kids just graduated from high school, obsessed with video cameras and the weird neighbor living in the apartment below. The dweller is a witch, whose death awakens dormant powers in one of the boys. Initially thrilling, the superhuman might is revealed to be an entity living inside the kid, who is in the process of taking over.

The found footage gimmick is also used to add some comedy to the proceedings, somewhat reminiscent of Chronicle. While the generic portrait of Latinos is borderline insulting, it allows the saga to break with the white family under siege pattern. It also helps the focus is not on the witches but the progeny. There is actual character development, a trick never seen before in the saga.

All the good work goes to waste by a pedestrian step-into-hell conclusion. Outside a couple of witches blown to smithereens (there is only so much black magic can do), the ending is the same as in the last three episodes. The goal of the wiccans remains in the dark, although I’m betting for world domination.

Furthermore, an attempt to tie The Marked Ones with previous chapters falls flat as it doesn’t even match events previously seen. When a franchise doesn’t even know its own mythology well, you can bet there is trouble ahead. Dos perros de pradera.

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones is now playing.