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Digging Up the Marrow
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What if the ghastly images and abominations haunting our collective nightmares actually exist? Writer/director Adam Green (Hatchet) sets out to make a documentary exploring this tantalizing premise after being contacted by a mysterious man named William Dekker (Ray Wise). Dekker claims he can prove that “monsters are real” and insists these grotesque creatures are forgotten, hideously deformed humanoids inhabiting a vast, underground metropolis of the damned. Determined to expose the truth, Green embarks on a bone-chilling odyssey and gets more than he bargains for when he dares to go Digging Up The Marrow.
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Director Adam Green and cinematographer Will Barratt play themselves. Ray Wise plays a crusty old crackpot--or is he?--named William Dekker. Dekker approaches Green with the idea of filming a documentary about a community of severely deformed humans (or creatures) who live in an underground civilization called The Marrow.
A big monster fan himself, Green swallows Dekker's tale with great enthusiasm, even when There is good reason to doubt Dekker's claims. Dekker imposes restrictions on their filming that make it difficult to catch any footage of the creatures. Eventually they do get a shot of one of The Marrow dwellers and the movie shifts gears. It starts becoming a bit darker. Wise's performance also masterfully alternates between quirky-funny and disturbing. The last shot of Wise reminded me just how powerful an actor he truly is.
The film is a little bit slow through the middle of the film. For those with patience, there is still a bit of fun on the journey as everybody from Adam Green's colleagues to his wife try to convince him just how dumb it is that he believes Dekker's claims. For Green that is just the point. Like Fox Mulder, Green simply WANTS to believe. Successfully filming these creatures would validate a life-long interest in monsters. The dialog is very witty at times, but still retains a feeling of unscripted spontaneity. There are also a few nice cameos along the way.
The conclusion is ultimately satisfying. Probably a better payoff than I've seen on some of the "true" paranormal programs this film sends up. Some creatures are shown, but not so much as to overstay their welcome. For those who want to see the creatures more, there is an excellent extra detailing the process of translating Alex Pardee's moody creature designs into some amazing sculptures.
I am not well versed enough in all of the technical aspects of DVD mastering to comment on it in an informed way. I will say the presentation is really good. Contrast and color are generally excellent, even if some of the night scenes seem a little too dark. However, I that that may have been intentional.
If prepared for what this film actually offers versus how Image misrepresented it, I think you'll have a good time with DIGGING UP THE MARROW.
Frankly, having bypassed it so many times, it wore me down, and last night I rented it. OK, so where to start, as this review is going to take some explaining...
First off, if you're a seriously hardcore horror fan (esp of Adam Green's excellent work), this is actually part documentary (it's part of the film, the "real" Hollywood horror insider scene) and you might enjoy that aspect. Second, this one's not like any horror film I've seem before, for better or worse, it's novel. It's not quite "found footage" but it is shot in a first-person format using all manner of cameras, angles, etc.
Third, this movie is a practical special effects horror movie fan's dream. I think even fans of the SyFy Channel's Face Off might enjoy seeing practical special effects in an actual recent-release. Personally, I am a big fan of practical effects, especially with CGI's ongoing replacement of "things" guys like Tom Savini, etc., used to do by hand. There's something about these effects that CGI just can't replicate, and it's good to see it still not only has a home, but can be a key element in a modern horror film.
Digging Up the Marrow is a fairly slow film, from start to finish, so you have to accept that pacing - and, for me, it works. In fact, this film could not have worked without the hurdles and obstacles of all kinds, esp the real world's demands on Green's time for his very real Hollywood projects.
This quasi-doco horror film examines the idea that a very real world of monsters exists, and has existed literally beneath our own. What came to mind, for me, was a world like the Troll Market from Hellboy 2.
Whether or not it does, or if it's all one man's delusion... well, THAT is the question this very fun, unique, and exceptionally well made (shot/edited/sound, etc.) proposes to answer. I don't want to say more, as I promised no spoilers. So, I hope I've set the stage enough that you, like me, can see past the DVD artwork and make a more informed choice as to whether this one's worth your time and a small amount of money....
If youre a jaded horror fan, looking for something new, I think you'll find this experience was worth it.
Personally, I think this film, as many others have noted, could have been SO much more. It was like it set the stage really, really well, but the show itself stopped right as it was getting interesting.