22nd Jun2015

‘Digging Up the Marrow’ Review

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: Ray Wise, Adam Green, Will Barratt, Josh Ethier, Rileah Vanderbilt, Kane Hodder, Sarah Elbert, Tom Holland, Mick Garris, Alex Pardee, Jimmy McCarthy, Nic Henley, Caitlyn Brisbin, Robert Pendergraft | Written and Directed by Adam Green


The problem with found footage movies is sometimes, instead of pulling the audience closer into the action, we end up thinking that the person behind the camera is just an idiot who should have dropped it and run for his life when things got dangerous. However their are rare occassions where you can just enjoy being taken along for the ride… As is the case with Digging Up the Marrow.

Playing himself Adam Green films a documentary about a man, William Dekker (Ray Wise) who contacts him promising proof of the existence of monsters in the world.  Taking Will Barratt along with him as camera man he interviews Dekker about the claims, agreeing to investigate the claims.  When they encounter one of the creatures late at night, it’s not long before things start to get out of control.

Adam Green is a director who we all know is also a fan of horror, especially the monsters.  He’s shown with the Hatchet movies that he can bring some ingenuity to the horror genre as well as tons of gore.  Bringing his style to the found footage sub-genre is somewhat of a risky business especially when there can be a cynical reaction from fans, but when it is done right it can bring with it some effective scares.  What Green gets right with Digging up the Marrow is to give it a documentary feel and pull in some industry friends to give it some legitimacy.  One of my favourite cameos is Kane Hodder who steals his scenes as they discuss the first footage of the monsters Green discovers, be sure to watch his deleted scene too as it further extends this.  Add to this a few other horror directors and actors like Tom Holland, Mick Garris, and Tony Todd and Green knows just how to seduce horror fans into buying into what they are seeing.

Then of course we have cult legend Ray Wise as William Dekker, putting on a performance of such controlled insanity that Twin Peaks fans can’t help but be reminded of his performance as Leland Palmer.  The complexity of the Dekker character became my favourite part of the movie, especially on repeated viewings.  When you know the reasons for his obsession with “The Marrow” and the creatures that inhabit it you see more nuances Wise puts into the performance to make it all the more effective.  Fighting to be believed, he is a tragic character and Wise knows just how much to ham up his performance to connect with the audience, while making Dekker still fun.  The fact that some of his scenes could be compared to what we see in Troll Hunter also helps.

With the monsters themselves, on my first viewing of the film I found myself slightly disappointed because I wanted more.  They are truly original beasts, created by artist Alex Pardee, and in the movie we do feel like we only dip ever so lightly into a world that really is very intriguing.  Reminiscent of Clive Barker’s Mideon in Nightbreed the world of The Marrow is fertile ground for a sequel, if handled right.  This is a questionable move though as I’m not sure as a fan of the movie I would want to dilute the concept by revealing too much?  It may be best to leave the rest of the Marrow undug for now.

For horror fans Digging up The Marrow is a celebration of the monster movie and the work of Adam Green, you just have to catch-all the references to Green’s films like Frozen, Hatchet, and even Holliston for that matter.  With a light-hearted atmosphere that feels more Troll Hunter than The Blair Witch Project this is a movie that gets better with repeated viewing, as you have the chance to notice more things.  Was I left wanting more? Damn right I was.  Letting it settle in my mind though I realised that maybe digging deeper into “The Marrow” isn’t something that should really be done.  Maybe we should just enjoy this fun slice of the macabre without diluting the mystery that makes it work so well in the first place.

***** 5/5

Digging up The Marrow is out on DVD in the UK now.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek

Comments are closed.