REVIEW: Things get wicked in ‘Paranormal Activity 5’

REVIEW: Things get wicked in ‘Paranormal Activity 5’

Photo: YouTube

Genre:  Horror, Thriller | Run Time: 84 min | Rated: R
Director: Christopher Landon | Starring: Andrew Jacobs, Jorge Diaz, Gabrielle Walsh

By: George Wolf

Covens are fun! Not to join – that would just be poor decision making on your part – but for sheer entertainment value, they make fine fodder. Just ask Jessica Lange.

And so it was with cautious optimism that I approached the 5th installment in the Paranormal Activity franchise, The Marked Ones.

What do we know so far? There’s a demon. It likes Katie. It hates Micah (who doesn’t?!). It and Katie took Hunter. Back in the day, that demon knew the very wee Katie and her sister Kristi because of a coven. Back to present time, Katie and a weird little boy move in next door to a family, who meet the coven. (It doesn’t go well for family.) What next?

We now leave the inner Katie/Kristi/Hunter circle for a moment because the demon is casting a wider net, with the mysterious coven’s help. That net has nabbed Electronic Simon Game enthusiast Jesse (Andrew Jacobs).

Longtime PA screenwriter (and son of Highway to Heaven star) Christopher Landon takes on directing duties this go-round. Thanks to his writing beginning with the first sequel, the series has taken on a reasonable franchise narrative. Unfortunately, he is still saddled with the found footage gimmick that made the original so effective.

Jesse gets a camera for his high school graduation, and he and his BFF Hector (Jorge Diaz) film a lot of crap. While dancing with Jesse’s dog, they notice some nutty sounds coming from the downstairs apartment – where the witch lives. They investigate. Bad plan.

Landon evokes some decent scares, and has fun with the handheld while Jesse first learns of the otherworldly visitor who is much less fun than he originally seems. Bursting with the misguided belief in their own indestructibility, both Jesse and Hector seem realistically teenaged and their terrible choices actually feel relatively honest given the fact that kids are stupid.

The film takes some time to get rolling, and it saves too many of its scares for the third act – at which point the handheld camera becomes a real distraction because most people would put down the camera and flee.

Note to regular PA fans:  there’s no point waiting through the credits on this one, as there is no extra scene. That, coupled with the full circle aspect of the ending may be a signal that PA5 might just put a ribbon on the franchise. Slow in spots and hardly groundbreaking, The Marked Ones still manages to entertain and startle.

It’s January. This may be the best we do for a while.


Read more movie reviews at

Recent Headlines

in Local

Zopp Wants Chicago Police Superintendent to Resign


U.S. Senate hopeful Andrea Zopp says Chicago Police superintendent Garry McCarthy should step down.

in Local

Judge to State: Pay Insurance for Home Health Care Workers


SEIU Healthcare Illinois took legal action against Gov. Bruce Rauner and Comptroller Leslie Munger earlier this month to force the payments.

in Local

Man Dies After Being Trapped in Corn Dryer

police lights

A piece of metal fell on the unidentified man as he walked through the Illinois Corn Processing plant and trapped him.

in Local

Renovation of Historic Properties Grows in Springfield

historical society

Credit given to low interest rates, federal historic tax credits and more awareness of the significance of historic buildings.