Horror writer and director Adam Green (Hatchet and Frozen) teams up with gooey mind-bending artist Alex Pardee and genre movie legend Ray Wise (Robocop and Twin Peaks) for the monster hunting mockumentary Digging Up the Marrow.
In a world one reality removed from our own, Green plays an exaggerated version of himself alongside his wife at the time Rileah Vanderbilt (Hatchet) and friends including Kane Hodder (Friday the 13th).
Green is supposed to be working on the next series of his actually real horror sitcom Holliston, but gets distracted by an item of bizarre fan mail ? a book showing creatures that live in a world below our own called The Marrow. It?s writer, William Dekker (Wise), is a perhaps kook who believes that these monsters exist and wants Green to document his discovery.
Green and his cameraman begin to visit and follow Dekker becoming fascinated by him and what he thinks he knows. But Dekker?s reluctance to give them the footage they need to make something out of these experiences that is worth making into a documentary leads Green to take matters into his own hands and at his own peril.
This faux reality element of Digging Up the Marrow is a fun blurring of lines that sees all involved take great pleasure in skewering themselves. Cameos from horror directors Mick Garris (The Stand) and Tom Holland (Fright Night) are a nice touch, as are appearances from the Candyman (Tony Todd) and Jason Voorhees (Hodder). Ever keen to prove himself as a proper actor, not just a hulking slasher, Kane Hodder is great, putting in a lot of work and making himself a highlight.
For a horror fan, this is often funny and always rewarding, but those not familiar with the genre or very aware of Adam Green?s previous and ongoing projects may find themselves a little miffed and mystified.
There are some well engineered scares ? two which are masterful ? but just not enough of them. There is also not enough of the monsters. Pardee?s art is used as Dekker?s illustrations of the creatures he has seen, but is often given surprisingly short shrift. The monsters conjured from these designs are amazing. The first appearance of a creature from The Marrow is genuinely balls-shrinking, and a finale that features a gang of them is petrifying, but again it?s far too little and annoying and wasteful.
The pedestrian direction and bad acting heighten this disappointment for what could have been. The camera is too static and the editing lacks any snap or energy. Wise is given too much rope at times and is left to dangle from some cringey improv. Green valiantly takes too much responsibility for forcing things along and gets shown up as well.
Digging Up the Marrow is only a short film at 88 minutes, but still manages to feel long and baggy. Some scenes really drag, and with such a largely unexplored and fascinating mythology presented, the lack of energy, thrills and answers is frustrating. The well presented and masterful Frozen felt like a huge step forward for Adam Green, but Marrow is a stumble backward and without the verve of Hatchet or the craft of Frozen is his weakest film.
The disc itself is a decent encode with no video artefacts and a choice of stereo or 5.1 audio. There is not a lot in the way of extras, some wisely removed Deleted Scenes that would only have put a bigger dent in the acting credibility of Green, and a Making Of. The Making Of is a solid and enjoyable twenty-seven minutes that shows you more of Pardee?s work.
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