Synopsis: A filmmaker (Adam Green) sets out on a bone-chilling odyssey after meeting a man (Ray Wise) who says that he can produce hard evidence that monsters are real.
Release Date: February 20, 2015 MPAA Rating: PG-13
The idea for Digging Up the Marrow was spawned out of the real-life experiences of director Adam Green. Among other things, Green is the man behind the Hatchet franchise of horror movies, and in 2010 he received a letter from a fan who claimed that Victor Crowley, the disfigured antagonist from Hatchet, was real. Green filed the thought away in his brain, and a couple of weeks later ran into artist Alex Pardee at a horror convention. Pardee had a similar concept that he had been working on in which a fictional former detective had been commissioning him to draw pictures of real monsters, similar to how a police sketch artist might draw a suspect from a witness’ description. Green and Pardee realized that their ideas were completely compatible, and the impetus for Digging Up the Marrow was born.
Digging Up the Marrow stars Adam Green and his longtime cinematographer, Will Barratt, as themselves as they set about making a documentary about Green’s life and work. Their film takes a turn for the strange when Green gets a letter from a fan named William Dekker (Ray Wise from “Twin Peaks”) who claims to have proof that the monsters about which Green has been making movies are real. Adam and Will decide to turn their cameras towards this guy’s story, and promptly schedule an interview with him. At first, they are skeptical, even to the point of making fun of the crazy old man. However, when Dekker takes the two filmmakers to a place called “The Marrow,” where the monsters live, his evidence starts looking more and more concrete.
It’s interesting that Adam Green would make a faux-documentary, because he has been critical of the found footage genre in general. Well, not all found footage, just the oversaturation of junk that appeared in the post-The Blair Witch Project era once it was discovered that the style could be used to save money rather than to benefit the story. To be fair, Digging Up the Marrow is not a traditional found footage movie; it appears to be a very honest and candid look at Adam Green’s life, just with a story about monsters inserted in to make it scary. Ray Wise’s recognizable presence makes it impossible to mistake the more sensational areas as fact (as if the monsters didn’t do that already). Wise is the only person in the film who does not play himself, which is interesting because his William Dekker is the least awkward and, therefore, the most convincing character in the film. And there are plenty of cameo interviews in the film; Green seems to have tapped everyone he knows for an appearance, from horror legends Tony Todd and Kane Hodder to internet journalist Steve Barton, from masters of horror Don Coscarelli and Tom Holland to the late GWAR singer Oderus Urungus (aka Dave Brockie).
Digging Up the Marrow takes a while to unfold, but that’s deliberate; special care is taken to set up the normal world of Adam Green before Dekker can destroy it. The movie takes turns being charmingly funny and cringingly scary, striking a nice balance between the two; it’s a horror film, but it’s got plenty of character. Digging Up the Marrow is one of the “good” found footage horror movies, and unlike anything that most audiences will have ever seen before.
The coolest element of Digging Up the Marrow is the monsters. The beasts are designed by Alex Pardee, sculpted by Greg Aronowitz (The Lost World: Jurassic Park), and brought to life by Robert Pendergraft and his crew at Aunt Dolly’s Garage (Jeepers Creepers, Dinocroc). The monster effects are all practical, making use of clever animatronics and puppetry and utilizing the limitations of the found footage style of filmmaking to hide whatever cracks or blemishes may exist in the facade. The monsters themselves are unique, fun, and downright creepy – nothing that one would want to meet in a graveyard after dark. They’re very well done, and that fact helps make Digging Up the Marrow not just another faux-documentary horror flick.
Once it gets rolling, Digging Up the Marrow is pretty freaking scary. There are a handful of good jump scares, but the fear is mostly derived from the underlying feeling of dread and despair that permeates the film. Many key scenes are tense and suspenseful because of what the camera doesn’t show the viewer; what’s in the audience’s collective imagination is far scarier than what’s shown onscreen. Still, when the scares do show up onscreen, they deliver in spades. Digging Up the Marrow is a slow burn, but it does pay off – the last twenty minutes or so are absolutely horrifying. It’s a different kind of scary than the average horror movie. Digging Up the Marrow is as realistically scary as a movie about fictional monsters can be.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Adam Green
- Screenwriter(s): Adam Green
- Cast: Ray Wise (William Dekker)Adam Green (Himself)Will Barratt (Himself)
- Editor(s): Will Barratt
- Cinematographer: Will Barratt
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer:
- Casting Director(s):
- Music Score: Bear McCreary
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USA