Review: Digging Up The Marrow (2015)

Posted on Friday, February 13, 2015 by

In this fictional documentary style film, the film’s actual director, Adam Green, receives fan mail from a man named William Dekker (Ray Wise) that claims he has found the existence of monsters and the entrance to their world. Adam and his filmmaking partner, Will Barratt set out to make a documentary about this man’s findings.

It is best to keep this movie’s synopsis vague (which is also advised by Adam Green himself.) I saw Digging Up the Marrow on its third ever showing in a small screening theater at USC. Adam Green and Will Barratt stood in front of the small audience and wished us all a happy viewing and pleaded for us all to “not ruin the ending for anyone” since it hadn’t been discussed on the internet yet, and I won’t be the one to spoil it. 

What you don’t know about me yet is that I’m a harsh critic, not easy to please, and I feel I have very weird taste in movies. With all that being said, I think I actually liked this movie. What attracted me to Digging Up the Marrow (besides it being a horror movie) was that it advertises Alex Pardee, a popular illustrator, as it’s concept artist. Being an illustrator and a horror fan, I felt an obligation. 

There are a few really great things working for this movie and I’ll break it all down. First of all, I am a member the anti jump scare club, but this movie uses them in a way that is actually fun, kind of campy, and dare I say, kind of scary. What also helps to make them unique jump scares is the pacing of the movie itself. A horror movie doesn’t need non-stop blood, guts, and monsters to be interesting. In fact, sometimes in this genre, less is more. 

The next best assets of Digging Up the Marrow are easily the concept and the art. Besides Ridley Scott with HR Giger, I’ve never seen a director work with an artist in a horror movie this way. Alex Pardee came to Adam Green with his art and the concept for this movie and Adam expanded from the core concept. Even though the story of someone searching for a gateway to an underground world where monsters live isn’t totally original, (uhm, Nightbreed? The characters even share the Decker/Dekker surname,) Alex Pardee’s illustrations and the filming style make it something new and special. 

Now, after all that lovely praise, it isn’t a perfect film. I am a chronic over analyzer and it doesn’t take much to poke holes in this plot. (I would go into detail, but I would have to give too much away.) I’m still unsure how I feel about Ray Wise being cast as William Dekker, even though I’m a huge fan. He was excellent, as usual, but I can’t deny that his famous face took me out of the “reality” they present in this film. I typically enjoy fan service, cameos, and call backs but the cameos in certain scenarios in this movie felt a little out of place and the intentions were slightly obvious. There was only one female “character” in this movie, that I can recall, and it was Adam Green’s wife (at the time) who only shows up maybe three times, two of those times in her underwear, which was obviously annoying. I heard someone in the audience whisper “seriously?” during a close up of her butt.

Digging Up the Marrow is a fun, strange, and worth-while movie to watch. It’s exciting when filmmakers make the bold decision in this genre to make something new and unique. This film comes off very genuine and that really resonated with me. I hope I’ll enjoy it this much on my second viewing when it comes out on VOD February 20th, the same day it will be theatrically released at the Laemmle North Hollywood Cinema. Digging Up the Marrow will then be playing in more cities March 2nd. It is also currently touring the US, so go to the arieScope website to check out cities and dates.

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