Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Digging Up the Marrow

Warning. Though they're included in this review for viewers who don't mind spoilers, I'd strongly advise not watching the below embedded clips before watching Digging Up the Marrow.

Both as a reviewer and a lover of movies, there's nothing quite like going into one completely blind.  Before watching Digging Up the Marrow I didn't watch the trailer or see any clips of it. In fact, until around two months ago I didn't even know it existed. When I read a short and interesting synopsis on IMDB I kept my eye on it, and ultimately awaited a PAL Blu-Ray release. So here it finally is, but in the age where the market is literally saturated with cheap horror flicks, is Digging Up the Marrow any good?

Directed by Adam Green and out now on Blu-Ray and DVD comes Digging Up the Marrow, a pretty decent horror flick amid a sea of shit. Digging Up the Marrow is a mockumentary and stars writer/director Adam Green as, well, himself. Just like in real life, in the movie Adam owns Ariescope Pictures, a company started in 1998 that has created a fair few films considered cult classics in certain horror circles. With movies like Hatchet and Frozen already under his belt, Adam receives a letter from a man claiming to have proof that monsters are real. So in the off chance that the guy is telling the truth, Adam decides to film it all and create a horror documentary. The man who has made these bizarre claims is William Dekker, a former private investigator who now lives a very solitary life. After Adam sets up the lighting and cameras, Dekker starts to dish out the goods. According to Dekker he knows about the existence of a underground world, a world inhabited by all the disfigured and deformed people who were seemingly rejected by our society. We're not talking about someone with a toe thumb (like me!) or a bit of a big nose, no, we're talking about deformities that were so shocking and disturbing that these people were taken away to their own hidden world. He calls this world “The Marrow”, and after locating one of the many passageways to this secret world, Adam and his team partner up with Dekker to document The Marrow and find out if there truly are monsters out there.

The set-up in Digging Up the Marrow is really great. From the opening shots of various interviews with big named horror fans at a convention, to Adam's own thoughts on what monsters mean to him, it nicely peaks the viewers interest in the possibility of seeing real monsters in a documentary setting. Compared to what we typically see in movies, the focus in Digging Up the Marrow is uncovering real monsters, bizarre humanoids that live beneath our feet who may or may not be dangerous, instead of a clunking Frankenstein with bolts in his neck. This build up is done superbly well, and during the first few attempts at filming the monsters exiting the entrance to The Marrow, these scenes are nail biting and, thanks to one particular jump scare, the reason why I spilled an entire cup of tea all over my Xbox 360 controller.

This brings me to the best aspect of Digging Up the Marrow- Ray Wise. Ray Wise plays Dekker absolutely perfectly, and throughout the movie his talent really shines. Whether it's a scene of him losing his temper at the film crew while awaiting a sighting of The Marrow's inhabitants, showing drawings of various monsters he has seen or him recalling the first time he came face-to-face with one of the monsters as a boy, he's incredibly watchable, creepy and genuinely believable as Dekker.

However Digging Up the Marrow does falter at times, and sadly a lot of its criticism is aimed towards writer/director/actor Adam Green. Green is a good director and clearly loves the his business and the horror genre as a whole, and this runs throughout Digging Up the Marrow. However, the movie often comes across like an advert for his company, as in pretty much every scene him and his crew are in they're wearing t-shirts of their previously made movies. It's hugely distracting at times and that, on top of various remarks and comments about their other projects, really does stink of shameless . Then you have the climax to Digging Up the Marrow, which while harrowing is a huge disappointment. While I do love ambiguity in movies as I don't need everything spoon feed to me, after the ending I was scratching my head. I won't spoil anything here, but with the what's-locked-in-Dekkers-basement story thread seemingly forgotten about towards the final act of the movie, the ending felt disjointed and rather than relying on me perhaps watching it again and forming an opinion, I felt like I had to read up about it. It's just confusing and while it doesn't wreck the great horror the movie has at times, it does put a bit of a damper on the whole affair.

Digging Up the Marrow despite some flaws, is a horror I really dug. 3/5.


Denis Murphy

Digging Up the Marrow at CeX

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