Sunday, 5 July 2015

Digging Up The Marrow – Adam Green’s Masterpiece

Adam Green’s fast developed a reputation as one of the 21st century’s masters of horror, with his joyously splatter-y Hatchet trilogy and the surprisingly tense stranded-on-a-ski-lift chiller, Frozen. And, his latest, monster-hunting documentary, Digging Up The Marrow, sees him add another feather to his already avian cap.

Green, as himself, receives a mysterious piece of fan mail claiming to be able to prove that monsters exist, spending their lives in a vast network of tunnels 100 yards below the earth’s surface. With his cinematographer, and long-time collaborator, Will Barratt in tow, Green organises an interview with the letter’s sender, William Dekker (Ray Wise), to try and see whether there’s any chance there may be some truth to Dekker’s claims. And thus begins their journey into The Marrow . . .


Think equal parts Troll Hunter and The Blair Witch Project, blended with a healthy dose of Green’s signature worldview. And it’s Green’s fingerprints that turn this by-the-numbers faux-monster hunt doc into something far more troubling.

You see, after 80 minutes of passing this all off as real, ‘Written and Directed by Adam Green’ pops up, followed by an utterly conventional set of credits. Then, in the fascinating making-of video, Green and his artists take us through the ingenious creation of these monsters. And yet, I still felt on edge. Something wasn’t quite right. Despite all these extras, and a couple of slip-ups in the ‘as her/himself’ performances, repeatedly drawing attention to the fiction of the piece, I was left somewhat unconvinced. Is this all just a front to cover up Green’s real findings? No, is the answer, but isn’t that a wonderful thing to believe . . .

And, that’s what I have found myself doing. Green and his team have uncovered an amazing world and, even if they don’t choose/get the chance to further explore it on film, they’ve given me the hunger to do some exploring of my own. I’ve found myself reframing a number of recent ‘bizarre occurrences’. Asking myself, could it have been The Marrow?

Harry Knowles’ (Ain’t It Cool News) cover quote states the film ‘will change the way you view the world’. Only time will tell, but he may be on to something there, you know . . .

I’ve never seen anything quite like Digging up the Marrow and, in an age of ‘unoriginal’ cinema, I can’t think of any greater compliment.

★★★★★

And, even if you don’t buy my wacko interpretation, Ray Wise’s terrific ‘performance’ makes for a fascinating watch in and of itself. He’s just the right dose of crazy and the acting chops required to really inhabit his character are impressive.

Likewise, veteran TV composer, Bear McCreary delivers an atmospheric score that does equal service to the horror and the film’s emotional core. And, refreshingly, this is good-old foreboding horror. I found myself genuinely creeped out by Dekker’s tragic insistence that he’s telling the truth, and the nights spent in the forest are endlessly chilly. Green follows that classic creature-feature trope of holding back the monsters until the finale, and Alex Pardee (creature designer), Greg Aronowitz (sculptor), Robert Pendergraft (head of the makeup effects department) and the rest of the special effects team do really great work here – the making-of really is essential viewing.


Digging Up The Marrow is out now on DVD (you can't go wrong at £7) and VOD!