Digging Up the Marrow

08/06/2021 06:35

Film: Digging Up the Marrow

Year: 2014

Director: Adam Green

Writer: Adam Green

Starring: Ray Wise, Adam Green and Will Barratt



This is a movie that I got turned on to thanks to podcasts. Prior to that, I believe the only Adam Green movie I had seen was Frozen. I was a bit pretentious at the time and didn’t care for it. Since then I have seen Hatchet, which I enjoyed, but I think that’s about it for his filmography. This was on my list of movies to see for some time so I’m thanking Duncan here for his Where to Begin with Found-Footage/Mockumentaries to finally knock this one out. The synopsis is a documentary exploring genre based monster art takes an odd turn when the filmmakers are contacted by a man who claims he can prove that monsters are indeed real.

For this movie, we start of getting to hear artists and famous horror people talking about why they like horror and other creepy things. This is really showing that we as horror fans aren’t the mainstream. We then get to meet one of our principal characters, writer/director Adam Green as himself. His cinematographer and another of our main characters is Will Barratt also as himself. Adam reveals that due to his independent nature of the films he makes, he often gets fan mail. He reveals one journal he got from a William Dekker. He decides he will seek this man out for an interview.

Dekker (Ray Wise) is a bit nervous to be on camera, but agrees. He tells the story of his life and research. Dekker claims to be a former detective from Boston. His tales starts when he was a boy. He was an only child and played alone at an abandoned factory. It was there he came face to face with a monster. Since then he has been trying to find it and others. He believes that he’s discovered an underground city he has dubbed the ‘Marrow’. Dekker also believes that there is a tunnel to this place near where he is living now.

Adam wants to believe. Will is a bit more skeptical. Adam’s wife doesn’t think it is a good idea to follow this; her name is Rileah Vanderbilt who is also playing herself. The two men do go with Dekker to a national park where there is a small cemetery. That first night, Dekker claims to see one, but won’t allow Will to turn on the camera light and for Adam to keep his flashlight off. When they go to edit the footage, they don’t see anything. They do go back and seem to catch something on camera when Will turns on the light this time. Doing so upsets Dekker that they’ve scared off the monsters.

The duo does come up with another plan to set up a light and cameras during the day. They’ll collect the footage the day after. What they find might not exactly be what they’re looking for and the more information they get, the more complicated this situation becomes. The real question here is are monsters real or is Dekker crazy?

That is where I’m going to leave my recap of the movie as this really has a basic story. What really makes this work is grounding it reality. We have the likes of Green, Barratt, Josh Ethier, Vanderbilt, Kane Hodder, Tom Holland and Mick Garris all playing themselves. Now some of these people I didn’t know coming in, but the horror legends I did. Seeing them as themselves makes this mockumentary feel more real and that is really what you’re going for here.

With that established, this movie feels like it is borrowing heavily from Nightbreed. We have this mythical underground city of monsters. Then we have Dekker being the David Cronenberg character from that movie as well. After watching this, I did a bit of research myself. What I did find was that Green did get a package from a fan that believed his character of Victor Crowley was real. It also seems like Alex Pardee did some art with monsters and a city that was called Marrow. I believe that and I like that all the designs here were based on his art. Regardless, Pardee and Green definitely borrowed from the Clive Barker work as well. Not that it is a bad thing, but should be established.

Circling back to the realism, I’m glad that we wait to get something to happen. Dekker is convinced he sees something, but we as the crowd are like Adam and Will, we don’t. I’ll be honest, I was straining. There is a great scene where Josh and Adam have their backs to footage from the cameras and something moves. No one notices it though. There is a slower build here that I think is effective in building more of that realism they’re going for.

Since there isn’t a lot that actually happens here until the latter third for the most part, this needs to be driven by the characters. I personally think it is a bit of misstep to have Wise as Dekker, because it does ruin some of the realism for me. I know who he is. What I will say though, in my research I found that Green elected to have him so people knew this wasn’t real. That does make sense. Regardless of how I feel, Wise is really good here as this eccentric older man that we don’t want to believe, but with how much he believes sucks me in. It is like a conspiracy theorist. The rest of the acting is solid. They are all playing themselves which works and I believe they bring that realism to each of the characters as well.

Then really the last things to go over would be the effects and sound design. For the former, they went practical and you can tell. It looks quite creepy. I need to commend the cinematography and lighting here as well. They hide things in the shadows. They only give you a glimpse and it works. There were a couple times I called out when seeing things. There was a moment where I thought they might have used CGI, but I read that everything was practical. What they did was pretty amazing to see. It really shows if you can take the time and effort, you can make things look more realistic. I think the sound design is effective. There isn’t much of a soundtrack, but it doesn’t need it. Overall I thought all this helped with being the realism for me.

In conclusion here, I’m glad that I finally got around to seeing this movie. It is an interesting mockumentary take on what if monsters were real. I think that the famous people that we get here help with establishing that. Green being the director/writer/star really helps as well. Being that he’s such a fan of the genre, he gives it the proper attention and care that it needs. I think the cinematography helps to hide issues with the effects while what we see looks great. The realism is built by the sound design and soundtrack really helps as well. This feels like a found footage take on Nightbreed, which is pretty interesting as well. I’d say this is an above average movie that is flirting on being good for me. This one I will definitely give a rewatch to see how it sits now that I now where it goes.


My Rating: 7.5 out of 10