I’m going to state up front I’m not a fan of Adam Green’s work. I’m a horror fan, yes, but so far he hasn’t created anything that interests me, which is why it pains me to have to give his first ever monster movie a thumbs down. When I first heard about Digging Up The Marrow I thought, ‘oh, good, he’s veering away from the slasher genre and into doing a monster movie.” Then some time later I became confused as to what this Marrow movie was supposed to be. When more news broke it gave me the impression it was really a documentary about the monster artwork done by this Alex Pardee guy. I quickly became uninterested. But then again some time later when even more news broke I became confused all over again. Hints were given that, no, it might be an actual movie about monsters, but why is Green shopping it as a documentary? Right up until a couple of months ago I still didn’t know what the hell this was.
In a nutshell it’s a faux/pseudo documentary. The real part is Adam Green, his work, the horror community he regular hangs out in and the other filmmakers that make cameos (i.e. Tom Holland, Mick Garris). The fiction part is William Decker played by Ray Wise, a retired private detective who seeks out Green to tell his story. And what exactly is his story? For the last couple of decades he’s been tracking monsters that live among us, monsters that live underground in this society he calls, The Marrow, and there are hidden portals to this Marrow all over the United States, the one in California is a hole in the ground in a local cemetery. The nature of these monsters, as Dekker reasons it, is they’re a society of deformed human beings, some monstrously deformed.
Green is a lover of monsters, so am I actually, but he for reasons unknown believes monsters are misunderstood and he’s been dying to see a real life monster for his entire life. His naiveté about what a monster is gets popped when Dekker eventually reveals like human society The Marrow also has it’s own deviants and psychopaths and some of these monsters they’re looking for might actually be dangerous.
Dekker agrees to take Green and his director of photography/friend, Will Barratt, out to this hole in ground so they can capture some real life monsters on film. We see how Green’s obsession with wanting to see a monster intersects with Dekker’s assertion real life monsters exist and how he wants to believe Dekker so bad he’s willing to overlook possible discrepancies in this man’s story and life. Was he really a retired detective? A trip to Boston proves that might be a lie? Is Dekker telling the truth when he told Green he was the first filmmaker he ever approached about getting “his story” told? At a horror convention Green attends he bumps into Mick Garris and Tom Holland who already know of Dekker. And why does Dekker keep that closet door chained and locked? Why does Dekker allow himself to be captured on film doing odd things in the middle of the night at that hole in the ground? A lot of the latter queries never get answered, you just have to presume it’s because he’s got some “personal” investment in these monsters he doesn’t want to reveal.
Unquestionably the highlights of this doc/fictional movie are the monsters. Monsters, I might add that come straight from Pardee’s imagination, which is what sparked this 4-year in the making piece of celluloid in the first place. The first capture of one of these things on camera is a shocker; I jumped when it happened. The monsters finally show up in the final act, well, three to four of them anyway, when they attack Green, Dekker and Barratt in the cemetery. And that final scene of where the missing camera went is a good shocking ending.
It’s always disappointing for me when I see a solid concept hindered by the wrong execution. SyFy channel does an immense amount of this with their original movies. I loved Pardee’s designs and his Nightbreed-styled history for them, but putting them in a faux documentary, I think, was the wrong way to go, which is why only the monster stuff is what kept my attention. In the future I hope Pardee’s monsters get more attention in some other movie. A movie that is not a faux documentary.
Before I forget Ray Wise is perfect as usual. Yeah, I’m a Ray Wise fan.
Image Entertainment releases Digging Up The Marrow on separate DVD and blu-ray editions on March 24th.
Video/Audio/Subtitles: 1080p 1.78:1 high definition widescreen—English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio—English SDH subs only.
Extras included on both the blu and the DVD are:
- Deleted/Extended Scenes (5 of them) (30:42)
- Monsters Of The Marrow (28:32)
- Audio Commentary with writer/director Adam Green, artist Alex Pardee, Cinematographer Will Barratt and actor Ray Wise.
Green introduces each of the five deleted scenes. The Monsters Of The Marrow featurette is a cool highlight of Pardee’s, monsters and how they were realized on screen.