Director – Adam Green
Cast – Ray Wise, Adam Green, Will Barratt, Rileah Vanderbilt, Josh Ethier, Kane Hodder, Tom Holland, Mick Garris, Sarah Elbert, Alex Pardee, Steve Agee, Steven Barton, Dave Brockie, Don Coscarelli, Lloyd Kaufman, Tony Todd, Evan Dickson, Corri English, Joe Lynch, Laura Ortiz
Release Year – 2015
Reviewed by John of the Dead
It has been five long years since the release of Adam Green’s last feature film, Hatchet II. While some things have changed since then, one remains the same – fans are still eating up mockumentary films. When I learned that Adam Green was employing this style for his newest film I was actually pretty stoked. Like many others, I enjoy these flicks but have also found them saturating the genre to the point where the good efforts are in the extreme minority. Of course, given Green’s track record consists of some of my favorite horror films of this millennium, I expected to enjoy this effort…and I did.
Adam Green stars as himself, filming a documentary about horror art inspired by Alex Pardee. His film takes an interesting turn when he is contacted by a man claiming he can prove monsters are real. Intrigued, Green agrees to meet the man and explore his outlandish declarations, only to learn that the man’s crazy tales are far from fiction.
If you are expecting a different, non-cliché mockumentary just because this comes from a respected director you will be in for a surprise. Part of the film’s allure to me was my hope in seeing Green give us a hell of a take on the sub-genre, but instead he followed the usual template. Is that a bad thing? No, not to me.
His story begins right away, with him mentioning a man named William Decker reaching out to him saying that he can prove monsters are real. Adam and his crew take the claims lightly, but nonetheless they figure giving him some screen time in their documentary should be entertaining. William claims that an underworld metropolis exists 100 yards under the surface. He calls this place “The Marrow”. Those who reside there, who he believes to be the many children born with deformities that are suddenly never heard from again, live lives much like ours where they get married, divorced, etc. Things get interesting when he takes Adam and his crew to the sight where he believes is the entrance to The Marrow. From then on out this location marks the source of the horror, and we get to watch as they set up cameras and try and catch a glimpse of these “monsters” William claims to see. Of course it comes off as if William is pulling their chain, but at the 30 minute mark we get our first glimpse that maybe he is telling the truth. The scares are minimal for the next 30 minutes or so, with the final act serving as the most horrific. Naturally, as with most films of this sub-genre, the payoff took a while and due to its anticlimactic final sequence…some may feel like the payoff isn’t enough. There are definitely some major questions that are left unanswered, but some of us like that and the discussions that ensue so that may not be a negative.
Green’s direction is impressive despite him following the usual template for this type of film. He kept things engaging and did so without showing as much horror as I wanted. The scare scenes we do get are highly effective and came with live-action effects and very little CGI. The look of the monsters was fantastic and they were influenced by artist Alex Pardee, who has a cameo in the film. He is not the only one either, as Tom Holland, Kane Hodder, Don Coscarelli, Tony Todd, Mick Garris, Lloyd Kaufman, and the late Oderus Orungus (RIP) also make appearances. For horror fans this should be a joy to watch for many reasons. It has good horror, live effects, and a damn good performance from the under-appreciated Ray Wise. William may be a supporting character, but he surely stole the show with the emotional extremes he was forced to portray as a man who has spent decades trying to prove the horrors that haunt him.
The most common complaint I have come across about this flick has to do with Adam Green’s role in the film. Genre fans accuse him of arrogant self-promotion, but I did not see that and it never came to mind before reading such comments. Sure he stars and gets a lot of screen time, but to me this story is intended to center on our desire to believe that monsters are real and not so much on whether they actually are. That is why he gets more screen time and story emphasis than William Decker. It doesn’t matter whether or not Decker proves his claims to be true. Green is essentially portraying us, the fans, and our desire to meet what scares us…even if we don’t believe. Don’t let these negative remarks keep you from this. It is worth your own opinion.
Overall, Digging Up The Marrow is a good found footage film with a story I enjoyed. The horror is there, and while it is it is worthwhile, but keep in mind that this follows the usual found-footage format and may not deliver everything you want.