Monday, February 23, 2015

Digging Up the Marrow

  Who says good poster art is irrelevant these days? One glimpse at poster art for Adam Green's Digging Up the Marrow and I knew I had to see it. That, and admittedly someone spoiled a small scene for me on tumblr, showing me a picture. Damn you people. You suck. But... thank you at the same time. It caught my attention and pointed me towards this awesome movie. It brings to mind another fantastic found footage movie I saw last year, The Taking of Deborah Logan, and sadly I neglected to write a review on it. I wasn't about to make that mistake twice. Digging Up the Marrow deserves to be heard about.

  Let me get this out of the way and say, I am not at all fond of found footage films. I'm not denying there's a handful of good ones, but by and large the genre has become nothing if not bloated with entries made on the fast & cheap with no creativity or real effort behind them. The whole concept of found footage has been done to death, and then some. It takes an amazing amount of effort just to come up with a good concept that would work best as a found footage film and stand out amidst the sea of shitty ones. The Marrow is one such film with a good, if not great, concept. You know all the deformed infants and kids you hear about, and see grotesque exploitative pictures of? As they grow up, we don't just see them walking around among us. They kind of just... disappear. Nobody looks for them, nobody cares, and nobody notices. Where do they go...?The movie poses us this question, and then provides us with a theory...

  They've all gone underground and grown up to be what your average person would consider bona-fide real monsters. After all, it asks, what really is a monster? The movie itself is very much caught up with the why's and how's of it. Proof and reality. Nevertheless, most of the characters in the movie are real people playing themselves. Right down to the star, writer, and director- also playing himself, Adam Green. He has an instant honesty in the role, which probably comes from playing yourself and not a character. For those of you don't know, he's an up and comer in the horror genre. I feel somewhat safe saying 'up and comer' because before this, I didn't even know who he was. He did the Hatchet movies apparently. I'm sure he'd be disheartened to know I've barely heard of them.

  Well I have now. Adam Green seems like a very cool guy. We hear about his deep personal affinity for monsters and how it translated over into his work. The first half of this movie feels exactly like a real documentary for all intents and purposes. It started feeling more cinematic once Ray Wise popped up as a potential crackpot, named Dekker, with the theories about these underground monster populated cities. A whole network of them. He calls this sub-civilization... "The Marrow". It's catchy, it's fitting. You say it enough times, it sticks even. It's wholly unpretentious and intriguing. The core concept of the movie revolves around this, so it had to be something that could hook you just from hearing about it.

  If Dekker sat me down and spilled his guts about The Marrow, I'd believe him. I wouldn't show up to start doubting him. Of course, Adam Green and his cameraman needed more than just theories and drawings. They needed video. Which is of course where the faux-documentary makes the shift into true found footage. Or as Adam would call it "Footage footage". There's nothing 'found' about it, see? The movie demands you believe in The Marrow right away even though Adam and his crew don't. You have to. Otherwise, there's no movie here. So much build up about monsters and 'what if they were real?' and wishing and... it'd be a dick move if the core concept of the movie was a hoax. Adam wants to believe in Dekker as much as we, as an audience, have had to this whole time.

  The pacing is rather glacial, but it needs to be.  If it blows it's load too soon, we get a shitty final act or some lame plot patchwork, filling in where we should've been getting the actual reveal. As the movie holds your attention on faith that there will be monsters, a small mystery within the internal workings of the film starts to crop up. Dekker himself is an enigma. He wants his theories about The Marrow to be filmed, by Adam and co. but he's being incredibly secretive at the same time. About the strangest things to boot. Adam ends up having to investigate Dekker while they all stake out an entrance to The Marrow. Which looks like nothing more than a large hole in the ground. At a cemetery of course. Because... where else would monsters go?

  In part, the unseen grandiose side of the concept was explored ages ago in another movie called Nightbreed. That movie was of a different tone altogether and carried a much different message. But underground cities? Populated exclusively by monsters? All around graveyards? Yeah, there's no denying some familial feelings here. It's what was lurking in my head the whole time watching this movie. Yet it talks it up so much, so huge, and shows you so little- but in the best way possible, that your imagination goes wild with it. It shows you just enough to get your brain going, and then manages to scare the shit out of you. That is, if you're engrossed at this point. If not, the scares will land flat, and you won't care.

  See, once you're caught up in the mysteries and the procedures and the theories... the movie is free to unleash what it has lurking in the shadows at you. It's fast, it's sudden, and it only works because you're so into it. These scares would be wasted in a lesser movie. Even though they're not entirely the most groundbreaking scares ever, Adam sells the hell out of it. In the situation, and beyond. He's fantastic. An anchor for the viewer in every way that matters. I wish I could tell you more, I want to show you the drawings, have you listen to Dekker, let your own imagination go wild. But I realize that I'm simply recommending you go seek out the movie. And you should. It has it's issues, plenty of them, but a lot of creativity, heart, and effort went into making this one atmospheric, scary, and worth your time. Don't pass it up.

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