Did 'Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones' Hit The Mark With The Latino Audience?

One of the first movie releases of 2014 was Paramount Pictures' horror film "Paranormal Activity: the Marked Ones" which hit theaters on Friday, January 3rd. It features an all-Latino cast and the story centers around a Mexican-American family.

The fifth installment of the successful suspense franchise follows childhood best friends Hector (Jorge Diaz) and Jesse (Andrew Jacobs).

When Jesse's neighbor is murdered, he and his pal go to her apartment to investigate. The next day, Jesse wakes up with an ominous bite mark on his arm, and he slowly starts showing signs that he may have been marked for possession by a demonic entity.

Diaz says the movie's theme strikes a chord with the Latino audience.

"There is so much to explore in that [supernatural] realm that hadn't been explored, especially when it comes to Latin American mysticism, and superstition and brujeria and Santeria," said Diaz to Fox News Latino.

Although the movie was written and directed by a non-Latino (Christopher Landon) it included Spanish dialogue and scenes with culturally relevant references such as limpias (a ritual to cleanse the body of evil spirits), botanicas (a store where they sell spiritual candles, spells, potions, etc linked to black or white magic) and plenty of religious symbols.

"That attracts a lot of people because it's something very real in the culture," said Jacobs.

Paramount Pictures also hired consultants to make sure the language and nuances were on point, but according to Diaz, casting Latino actors made the biggest difference in ensuring authenticity.

"I grew up as a first-generation Mexican-American in southern California, and this is specifically about a Mexican-American family in southern California," he said.

Diaz said the director encouraged the cast to give their input, making scenes like 'abuelita' (Renee Victor) having a tequila shot and dancing to classic Mexican songs in the kitchen look and feel organic.

"There was a trust between the director and the whole creative team and the actors, it was a big collaborative effort," added Diaz.

Most of the movie was filmed in a real apartment complex in Los Angeles, and Jacobs said shooting some scenes sent chills down his spine.

"Being down there in the dark, all the crew members were on top and it was just us down in the basement in the dark, so that felt a little creepy to us."

Jacobs, who was born to Latino parents but was adopted by a French woman, counts this movie as his first leading role. The film was also a platform for other young Latino newcomers such as Noemi Gonzalez (Evette) and Gabrielle Walsh (Marisol).

Starring Latino actors was a big bet for Paramount, a major English language studio film, and the actors felt it.

"There was a lot of pressure," said Diaz. "The last Paranormal Activity was criticized and some fans where disappointed."

On its opening weekend the movie came in second place at the box office after Disney's "Frozen," making over $18 million.

It may not have been the blockbuster hit that was expected, but Diaz feels it was a big win for Latinos. "Just having shot this by a major studio is a success on its own."

Diaz is hoping this is just the beginning. "I'm excited to see what's to come and see what barriers we can break. With this movie we are also showing other major studios that a universal story could be told with any ethnicity."