PA5TMO as i shall now call it, was always going to happen. The last four have made an extremely large amount of money for their creators, in fact, PA1 holds the title of the most profitable film ever made.
I have to admit to having a very soft spot for this particular series of horrors – part two and three scared the absolute bejeesus out of me and gave me legitimate nightmares. Part one frightened me into sleeping with the lights on for three nights – something i haven’t done since i was a little girl!
PA5TMO is not precisely a sequel to part four but a spin off from the franchise. It has a different production team behind it including a director who is only on his second feature (though he wrote all three of the previous sequels) and a mainly latino cast of unknowns fill the screen.
The story is now taking place in Oxnard, Cali with a newly graduated Jesse (Andrew Jacobs) and his friend Hector (Jorge Diaz) snooping around in the apartment of their neighbour Ana, who lives downstairs and is rumoured to be a witch. After a strange bite on Jesse’s arm he develops what appears to be superpowers, but after the excitement of this wears off and things seem to turn bad, Jesse realises he has been ‘marked’ for something far more sinister. With Hector and Jesse’s friend Marisol (Gabrielle Walsh) calling on the help of Ali Rey (the stepdaughter of Kristi from part 2) they learn exactly what the evil coven of demon worshipping witches (!!!) want with Jesse, and then the action is ramped up as they battle to find and save him.
As ridiculous as all that sounds it is actually filmed with a firm hand and a strong sense of place which lends the outlandishness a welcome dose of reality; grounding the slightly less believable elements and making you feel far less foolish for buying into them.
Its well performed by all concerned with no-one particularly elevating proceedings but no-one letting the team down either.
There was enough humour and gravitas to keep you entertained in the ‘downtime’, enough mystery to keep the story interesting, and i loved the use of the ‘Simon’ toy from the 80’s – having played with one when i was young it was uber cool to see it given a new chilling twist..
The problem is the horror.. it really wasn’t there. Featuring three or four good jump scares and an effectively breathless final act, this was not a bad movie just unable to maintain the sense of dread the other four had managed (i love a good ending though and this one, while feeling a tad rushed, was pretty effective).
I liked the relocation of action to a tight knit Hispanic community, i liked how neatly it tied in the mythology of the other movies in the series – expanding and adding to it in unexpectedly engrossing ways, but this is the weakest of the five when it comes to pure fear.
Ironically it may be the best made movie of the series, but its the worst horror movie of the lot.