Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones (Jan. 3) Big picture: After being “marked,” a young man is relentlessly pursued by mysterious, dark forces. Yes, this is yet another sequel in the Paranormal Activity franchise. But isn’t it ironic that the plot synopsis could also be used for a documentary film on Beliebers? (If I had my choice between demonic possession and being hounded by endless parades of nonsensical, squealing teens, I’d take my chances with the supernatural beast. At least you can reason with a vengeful spirit.) In this Paranormal entry, a group of teenagers investigates a mysterious murder site, which also happens to contain black magic symbols and lost tapes from Paranormal Activity 3. Afterward, Jessie (Andrew Jacobs) finds strange bite marks on his arm. Faster than you can shake a camcorder, he exhibits strange powers and begins losing his identity to an otherworldly presence. (Hannah Montana must have felt the same way when Miley Cyrus started to take over.)
Forecast: Hollywood needs another Paranormal Activity like it needs another Baldwin brother. Diehard horror fans may unite, but fans of quality filmmaking are better served picking one of the endless Oscar contenders currently in theatres. It’s the season for storytelling, acting and genuine Hollywood magic. Practitioners of the cinematic black arts (e.g. Michael Bay) will repossess the box office soon enough with blockbusters driven by 3D and CGI.