One review I read called “Digging up the Marrow” something to the effect of “Adam Green’s love letter to horror fans”. I don’t know if that was paraphrasing or just plagiarism, but the phrase really does do a good job of both hooking a potential viewer and explaining the movie. I’ve always stated that I like movies about movies, and this one is a movie about making a documentary. It’s shot as a documentary, but it makes no claims of truth; we know we’re watching a scripted, acted movie. What is endearing and interesting about “Digging up the Marrow” is that everything except the main plot is reality. It’s a weird gimmick and admittedly one that will likely appeal much more to fan’s of Adam Green’s work, but I’m one of those guys and this review will be biased. Deal with it.
The movie is set in real life Southern California in the present day (2014), where horror director Adam Green (played by himself) and his production company are working on several movie titles as well as the next season of their horror-sitcom, “Holliston”. Before the action starts, Green receives a letter from a man that claims that monsters really exist and he has proof. The movie you’re watching, now, is the documentary that Green films to bring these monsters to the public. It starts innocently enough, with a highly skeptical but highly hopeful Green meeting with a slightly unstable looking William Dekker (Wise). The investigation progresses and the crew goes deeper down the rabbit hole because Green really wants to find monsters. As he (and other casual interviews during the opening) explains, it is every horror fan’s dream that these monsters, the stuff of their dreams, really do exist. Wouldn’t that be a great world? It’s what these guys make movies about and what we spend our hard earned dollars to watch. And so the film continues, with Green slowly taking over Wise’s role as the believer trying to get the truth out. The role switch is interesting and leads to some very entertaining and exciting moments. What really keeps you interested is how much you agree with what Green does. Usually in a horror movie the main character makes some dumb, cliché move, but Green knows all the cliché’s and he’s not following them. He makes some questionable decisions that you want to yell at him for, but then you put yourself in his shoes and… you’d do the same damn thing. That’s what makes “Digging up the Marrow” fun, putting yourself in Green’s position and thinking how you’d act.
A lot of the movie’s charm comes from it’s stabs at the horror culture and it’s denizens. We get a boat load of cameos, everyone from Kane Hodder (what Green movie would be complete without him) to Mick Garris. There are references galore to “Holliston” and “Hatchet”, and who doesn’t love the “Shinpads” posters? Okay, I’m getting a bit fan boy on you. But the whole movie feels like you’re at a horror convention. Lots of real people just like you who are just huge fans and want nothing more than to see some monsters and have a good time. There are plenty of jokes at the culture as well, but the film is just as quick to remind us of it’s good intentions.
“Who did your special effects?” is an entertaining theme from the movie. Of course it’s an ensemble crew, but special attention needs to be given to Alex Pardee, the twisted and beautiful mind behind “Digging up the Marrow”’s ‘monsters’. A very talented artist, Pardee’s work can be marveled at through a simple Google search. The guy isn’t really into gore and his creatures aren’t necessarily the most visually scary, but they are downright creative and awesome to look at. Whether the backstories given in the movie by Dekker are Pardee’s own or the work of Green’s imagination, they bring even more credibility to what you are watching. The art design in this movie is just so damn cool.
So visually, yea, this is pretty fun. Picture quality is good for what it is, a documentary. Same goes for sound. I’m not sure how much of this was really shot on low budget equipment and with on-location sound setups, but the movie was supposed to feel like a documentary and it really shines in that department. In this section I usually throw in a bit about any attractive women in the movie so I’ll give a shout out to Adam’s (ex)wife Rileah Vanderbilt, but that’s really, really not what this movie is about. We’re 100% focused on seeing monsters in the shadows, and we’re fine with that.
To close, “Digging up the Marrow” was a very entertaining way to spend a Friday with a few beers. The movie was not really reviewed well so I didn’t have many preconceptions, just an interesting story and a writer-director I knew I liked. While Green is no Don Coscarelli or Wes Craven, he certainly has his place within the modern pantheon of horror. It’s yet to be seen if he even wants to do something full blown “horror”, but for the time being I’ll keep watching “Holliston” and entertaining myself with his other flicks.