[WARNING – Major SPOILERS for the Paranormal Activity Franchise Follow!!!!]
Another Paranormal Activity movie is now in theaters (read our review) – which means that it is once again time to sift through the franchise’s sordid mythology to see if we can’t get a firm grip on what the hell is going on.
Due to the nature of the found-footage sub-genre, explanations and informative resolution are almost impossible to come by, as films presented from found-footage POV almost always come to the truncated end of that last victim dropping the camera during their final moments of panic. Audiences are then left to comb through expositional and visual clues presented throughout the film, in order to fuel their theories about what it all means.
As you can see in the video below, we’ve already done extensive documentation of the mythos established in Paranormal Activity 1 -3, and PA4 gave us more questions than answers, so how does The Marked Ones fit into all this? We’ll explain.
Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones – Ending Explained
Dubbed as a “spinoff” of sorts, The Marked Ones follows Latin teenagers Jesse (Andrew Jacobs) and Hector (Jorge Diaz) as they explore the mystery of Jesse’s neighbor Anna (Gloria Sandoval), who they discover is an evil witch. Anna’s witchcraft is in pagan rituals involving pregnant women, whose offspring (upon reaching maturity) are linked to a demonic force that eventually possesses them. Despite the best efforts of Hector, his cousin Marisol (Gabrielle Walsh) and some pissed-off gangsters, Jesse ends up under demonic thrall and his friends all meet grisly ends.
Here’s where it gets especially weird: there’s time travel involved.
Before we get to that, lets just be clear: PA 2 – 4 writer Christopher Landon uses The Marked Ones as a gateway (no pun) to blow the Paranormal Activity franchise wide open into an entire shared universe (the game plan of most film studios, nowadays). This is no longer just the story of Katie, Kristi and their family’s history with a demon named “Toby”; the revelations of The Marked Ones (specifically the investigative evidence collected by the doomed Oscar) show that Katie and Kristi’s story is just a small part of a much larger campaign of demonic conquest, being spearheaded by a coven of evil witches.
It goes like this: The witches perform spells on pregnant women (who come to them as bargains and/or unwitting victims – the specifics are unclear); the women give birth; and upon reaching maturity, their first male children are “marked” for possession, and are eventually possessed in full. Such deals have been made all over the world, with multiple young men having up and vanished after grisly murders, presumably having been converted into demonic form for some yet unknown purpose.
In the case of Katie and Kristi: their family took an awfully long time to produce a male heir (Hunter in PA2), but their grandmother Lois (who is part of the witch coven) “marked” them as “demon brides” when they were children (seen in PA3), making it inevitable that the demon would one day come to collect the offspring he had been promised (Hunter). The demon tried to do this directly by attacking Kristi and her family (in PA2), but the Rey family threw a monkey-wrench into the plan by transferring the demonic force to Katie.
Katie was then “marked” by the demon’s bite (in PA1 – see here) and eventually got possessed so that she could carry out the mission to collect Hunter, and disappear with him. Hunter was eventually adopted by another family and renamed, but soon Katie and another mysterious “adopted” boy came calling (in PA4). Hunter’s adoptive family was killed, and last we saw, Hunter (now seemingly possessed) is left in the care of an army of demonic witch women.
SHORT VERSION: A demon is building an army, and he’s using his loyal witch servants to do it by putting spells on pregnant women all over the world.
NEXT PAGE: Time-Travel & More Easter Eggs
Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones is now in theaters.
Little clues in PA4 (like Spanish newspapers on the windows of Katie’s house) lead to the story of The Marked Ones. Besides learning that the whole Kristi/Katie/Hunter saga is but a small drip in a larger pond, the spinoff chapter also teaches us more about the coven of witches that characters like Lois (Katie and Kristi’s grandma) and Anna belong to. Most notably: we learn they have magical doors that allow them to travel through space/time to “unholy places.”
This basically means that the coven of witches we first met in PA3 (and again in PA4) have the ability to literally step through time to key points of demonic activity – i.e., to any one of the Paranormal Activity movies. In Marked Ones we see this play out in the finale where Hector, fleeing from those same witches and a demonic Jesse, runs through Lois’ house (the place we saw at the end of PA3), flings open a door, only to find himself in Katie and Micah’s house form PA1, at the unfortunate moment of Katie’s final possession/murder of Micah, which occurred offscreen in the original film, but is shown in gory detail in The Marked Ones. At the end, demon Jesse springs on Hector from the time-doorway and helps demon Katie with the slaughter.
SHORT VERSION: Aside from taking things in a very WTF? Doctor Who-style direction, the introduction of time travel basically allows Landon and Co. to avoid major continuity snafus, as they can basically work around any and everything by having demons and witches show up anywhere, any time, without having to worry about explanation, chronology, etc. It also allows future chapters of the series to take place in widely different locations and/or time periods, without losing connection to the main narrative – and of course, allows for characters like franchise staple Katie (Katie Featherston) to show up in each and every installment.
But again, what this demon recruitment drive is all building to is anyone’s guess. (Although, it does hold the distinction of being the most well-documented demonic takeover, ever. Everybody is filming it!)
Other Marked Ones Easter Eggs
We caught a few of the more obvious ones – add any you spotted in The Marked Ones to our comment thread below:
- Jesse has the exact same bite mark pattern that Katie did in PA1.
- The word “MEUS” is written on Jesse’s wall like it was on the Rey family’s wall in PA2. It means “mine” in Latin and is seemingly the demon’s claim of ownership over his “marked” male heirs.
- That bedroom at the end of PA4, with the windows covered in Spanish newspapers, was likely Anna’s room.
- The house that Hector, Marisol, and the gangsters raid at the end of Marked Ones is the witch stronghold from the end of PA3 that belongs to Kristi and Katie’s grandma (and seeming grand witch), Lois.
- Anna had the box of tapes stolen from Kristi’s house at the start of PA2, meaning she and her fellow witches staged the raid.
- Kristi’s step-daughter Ali from PA2 shows up in Marked Ones as an older and more experienced demon hunter, still investigating Hunter’s abduction.
- Due to time-travel, it is young Kristi and Katie from PA3 that Jesse encounters in Anna’s basement. They probably showed up for his possession ceremony.
- It looked like Lois who came to collect items from Anna’s apartment when Jesse and Co. were hiding in the basement.
- Was that a possessed Alex (the main character from PA4) who finally shuts off Hector’s camera at the end of The Marked Ones? Kind of looked like her…
With a mythos that has been blown wide open, the Paranormal Activity franchise is now clear to expand into any number of standalone installments, before culminating in a big showdown that potentially brings back the possessed characters and/or witches we’ve seen so far. Here’s hoping the films get better (and more creative, like Marked Ones) as we continue on the journey.
That is, if you’re still even invested at this point….
Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones is now in theaters.