Digging Up The Marrow (15)
Running time: 88 minutes
Director: Adam Green
Writer: Adam Green
Cast: Adam Green, Ray Wise, Will Barratt, Rileah Vanderbilt, Kane Hodder
Reviewed by: Matt Wavish
Adam Green (Hatchet, Frozen) writes, directs and stars in the faux documentary Digging Up the Marrow, a homage (hopefully, and not an outright copy) to Clive Barker’s Nightbreed, and found footage classics like The Blair Witch Project.
Coming off some spectacular festival reviews, I was very excited to see this, and considering Green’s talents, and the superb trailer, my excitement was through the roof. Here we have a found footage film about proving that monsters are real, and as an added bonus it stars Ray Wise as the slightly crazy (or is he) William Dekker, the former detective (or was he) who believes he can prove monsters are indeed real, and that he has found a gateway to their underground metropolis.
Green plays himself, and makes a documentary about Dekker and hunting the monsters who sometimes come in to our world through a place he calls The Marrow. They could come through two or three times a night, sometimes not at all, but Dekker promises they are there. Green sets about interviewing Dekker, before eventually heading out to a cemetery in the woods, hoping to film some monsters.
The majority of the film is made up of interviewing Dekker, or Green and his team discussing the documentary, and the talky stuff is fresh, fast paced, intriguing (Wise superbly plays a man who may, or may not be insane) and often hilarious. Green writes natural situations with human responses, which makes the entire setup pretty clever, and almost believable. Green certainly put in a lot of effort for authenticity, and also a little too much time plugging his own films (by way of T-shirts, posters, screen savers etc).
The film knows exactly what genre its set in, and what audience it will attract, so adding some genre names like Kane Hodder, Tom Holland and Mick Garris will be welcome by fans. Hodder responds brilliantly to Green’s first footage of hunting monsters, saying “no one wants found footage anymore”, while a conversation with Holland and Garris at a horror convention is hilarious as they rip on Green. It’s all done with the utmost respect for the genre, but maybe a little too strong on the inner circle feel for casual horror fans to really appreciate.
There is one big issue here though that ruins all integrity, and its the fact that EVERYONE plays themselves apart from Wise, but its a struggle to complain about such a superb performance. Personally, Wise playing himself would have been way more effective. But hey, he steals every scene as he gradually becomes more and more unhinged.
The film is well paced, for the most part well directed, and very exciting as we share Greens nights searching for real monsters. When they do arrive, unfortunately there is not enough screen time given to them, which sadly spoiled things for me somewhat. Knowing Green’s skills with practical effects, I was expecting a full on monster onslaught, but was left disappointed (even though what monsters we do see are really cool). The whole build up, which is terrific by the way, is lost in a rushed and badly executed final act which bolts along at lightning speed, without any real thought for realism or continuity. Things begin to go downhill, fast.
The finale is weak, and the final shot is confusing, and lacks that lasting impact of films like The Blair Witch Project, Cloverfield and even films like The Devil Inside, [Rec] and Paranormal Activity. You can see Green was desperate to end with a bang, but instead leaves a sour, bitter taste of a promising build up to a rushed, half arsed ending, which is a real shame.
Digging Up the Marrow is a great found footage effort for the dedicated horror fans, but without any real scares to talk of, the casual horror fan will probably hate it. Personally, I appreciate Greens efforts, and I like what he was trying to do, and casting Wise was a stroke of brilliance, but the film did not live up to the hype or the trailer. A missed opportunity Mr Green, and its frustrating because I know he can do better.