Screamfest 2013: Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones Preview Preview

Paranormal Activity

Screamfest premiered the trailer for the upcoming Paranormal Activity spinoff, Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones, or as we’ve come to know it, Latin Paranormal Activity.

You’ll see some of the specific creepy gags they reveal in the trailer when it plays online starting October 17, so I’ll report more on the overall impressions and conceptual feelings about the first footage from Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones. The trailer specifies the characters’ connection to Katie, and it is encouraging that Blumhouse and the filmmakers have kept developing the Paranormal Activity mythology, rather than just starting afresh with a new family cursed by demons, which would have been a perfectly valid approach too.

The format seems to take a refreshing shift from the first four Paranormals. Someone is still videotaping everything, but it is way bigger than a single house and clearly covers more ground. I wonder if the scares will be less about gags you can pull with a static camera and more environmental or effects-related. That wasn’t clear from the 90 seconds.

The demon power seems to impact Jesse (Andrew Jacobs) in a way that takes the curse outside a single family and into the real world. It is certainly appropriate to Jesse’s situation, living in a rough part of town, but it is also a universal desire for power and the consequences of obtaining it. There is a clear body horror slant which was not the focus of Katie’s Activities, which is an interesting subgenre to tap into within the Paranormal world.

So the Latin specific elements include the setting. Opening shots establish a barrio, or multiple barrios, with a title card signifying Oxnard, CA. So it happens to be a Latin neighborhood and the characters are incidentally Latin. Culturally, there are some specific ways they approach the supernatural, although some of those have already been explored by some supporting characters in Paranormal Activity 2. It didn’t work for her, so I’m predicting it won’t work for these folks in The Marked Ones either.

It seems like a happy marriage of culturally specific elements and universal horror, though I don’t imagine any of the Paranormal Activity movies excluded audiences for featuring a Caucasian family. Likewise, taking Paranormal Activity into a new territory shouldn’t exclude any of its existing fans either. It’s more reflective of the world in which we are living, where a film can be about anyone and we’re all interested. Whether this is Paranormal Activity 4.5 or the beginning of a whole new Marked Ones franchise, I have a good feeling about this.

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones comes out in January 2014. 

Fred Topel is a staff writer at CraveOnline and the man behind Best Episode Ever and Shelf Space Weekly. Follow him on Twitter at @FredTopel.