Abnormally Paranormal: “The Marked Ones” Left A Hoofprint On My Heart

It’s no secret that I love scary (non-thrasher) movies. The only thing that scares me more than movies about demonic possession is how much I love watching movies about demonic possession. In particular, I love the entire series of Paranormal Activity movies. I know, I know. But, this is a safe place, so I should be able to say these things without fear of public humiliation or retaliation. Please don’t send any demons to my home. I will literally DIE…of a heart attack.

As you might have guessed, we went to the movies tonight to see the new Paranormal Activity. You know those horror movies like SawI Know What You Did Last SummerScream? The first one is usually pretty good, and it makes an impact on the audience and even some of the critics. But then they make another one…and another…and another…and five more. And, by the time they’re finished making sequels they’ve hacked up the original concept so badly that some other franchise feels compelled to come along and make one of those God-awful spoofs. I hate those stupid spoofs. Anyway, I digress. This movie was NOTHING like those.

This was my second favorite. Everyone knows that the first is always the best. But, The Marked Ones was to the original like the Snorks was to the Smurfs. Everyone likes the Smurfs better. But the Snorks were pretty freaking cool. If you are wondering, although you are probably not, what was so cool about The Marked Ones, well don’t you worry…I will tell you all about it. (No spoilers).

To start, the movie takes place in a parallel universe relative to the plot in the main series. At first, I was concerned about the movie’s relative juxtaposition to the last (not so good) one. It was another indication that the series had become just another washed up horror flick with its benefactors looking to capitalize on its profitability.

But, while the concept of “found footage” has totally surpassed its staying power, this movie managed to find a way around that. In his review, horror expert Don Sumner explained that “found footage requires too much forgiveness on the part of the audience.” I think that pretty much sums it up. But, that’s just it…I think almost any horror movie requires forgiveness from the audience. There’s nothing I hate more than going to see a scary movie with that one guy (or gal) who spends the entire duration of the film criticizing every detail. Dude, if you could create a multi-million dollar horror franchise on a dime of a budget, you probably wouldn’t be rocking that stupid Dawn of the Dead t-shirt and those busted looking Doc Martins and driving around in a car without windshield wipers. (Yea, we had the pleasure of sitting in front of that guy tonight.) What can I say? I’m passionate when it comes to things I care about.

Anyway, the movie takes place in an urban, working class neighborhood in Oxnard, California, and follows main characters Jesse and Hector. Jesse and Hector are BFF’s since childhood, and naturally they make a series of really awesome (questionable) choices, leading Jesse to a full-blown case of demonic possession. Sadly, it doesn’t work out so well for Hector either, but I was surprised by how invested I became in their friendship. The acting was actually pretty good. I don’t know that I could have kept a straight face during the scene when Jesse wakes up with a huge drawing of a penis on his cheek. And, I would bet money that they were actually stoned when they were “pretending to be stoned”. Seriously, the only thing that would have made it more believable was if they devoured seven bags of Frango chocolates and reflected on their sleeping habits afterwards.

Lindsey felt like the movie perpetuated a lot of Spanish stereotypes. And, while I think she’s probably right (multiple generations living in one bedroom, half of them in gangs, and crosses over every bed—well, the only bed—in the house), I liked the Latino twist. That’s mostly because I was so pleased by how well I could translate, that and, I found Jesse’s Mamita really endearing. Like the first installment in the series, I think the characters really made this movie special. They were just so…believable. Let’s face it, with horror movies casting “actors” like Paris Hilton just to drum up media attention, it was refreshing to watch these two regular guys act the pants off almost any other horr-actor out there.

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While the actors are a major part of what made this film work for me, I also genuinely liked the plot. The only thing I disliked was the scene when demon-Jesse uses his freaky magical powers to levitate his adorable little Chihuahua (yet another stereotype) until he wiggles around crying on the ceiling. To the humans do what you will, but leave the cute little fluffies out of it.

Off-putting doggy scene aside, the movie took some unexpected turns, knocked down some unexpected walls, walked through some really freaky doors, and gave me just a little bit more of what I’ve been craving in my life…an arsenal of AK-47 assault rifles and an entire coven of creepy-ass witches.

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I mean, in one scene, mi hermano actually sucks himself into the wall and contorts the room like melted candle wax, before stretching it through time and space and flinging himself back out into the middle of the room like some sort of human-sized demonic slingshot. Then, he proceeds to hover above the ground, growling like any respectable demon would. I was invested from the beginning, but after that scene I was bought and sold like Jesse in-utero. The only difference is, I wasn’t going to be bringing home anything unholy afterwards. Well, here’s hoping, anyway. But, I’ll be sleeping with my rosary tonight, just in case.

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