In crafting "Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones" (Paramount), writer-director Christopher Landon maintains the admirable tradition of minimal bloodletting that has characterized this spooky franchise since its 2007 debut. But he also ratchets up the adult content with a steady flow of vulgarities and a scene of occult rites performed without clothing.
Perhaps the tough talk is meant to be in keeping with a shift in venue from the suburban setting of the previous films to a working-class Latino section of Oxnard, Calif. There, recent high school grad Jessie (Andrew Jacobs) has a series of unsettling experiences that his best friend Hector (Jorge Diaz) documents using a handheld camera.
The pals suspect the strange goings-on are connected to the murder of Anna (Gloria Sandoval), a mysterious neighbor in Jessie's apartment complex who was rumored to be a witch.
The black-arts back story is just there for window dressing. More troubling is the combination of Catholic prayer and Santeria practices to which Jessie's grandmother (Renee Victor) eventually resorts to try to rid him of his supernatural woes. Along with the elements cited above, this potentially confusing admixture of scriptural faith and barely disguised polytheism prevents endorsement for young or impressionable moviegoers.
In fact, with the found-footage conceit underlying all the "Paranormal Activity" pictures beginning to feel threadbare, even those few mature horror fans who make up the appropriate audience for this fifth outing in the series may find it less rewarding than its predecessors.
The film contains some violence with brief gore, a suicide, full nudity, nongraphic nonmarital sexual activity, drug use, a couple of instances of profanity, pervasive rough and crude language and a few sexual jokes, one involving an obscene image. The Catholic News Service classification is L—limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R—restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.
John Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.
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