Ginger Nuts of Horror
Love them or hate them found footage films are here to stay. Digging Up The Marrow from horror film director Adam Green, the director of Hatchet, and Frozen (no not that Frozen) is the latest entry in this sub genre of horror films, but this isn't just your normal found footage film, oh no this is something much more. This is a "meta found footage film", wait don't go! It is no where near as bad as you think, in fact Digging Up the Marrow is one the the most enjoyable horror films of the year.....
I can hear you now, "Ginger Nuts what exactly is a "meta found footage film", well I'll tell you, in this film the director Adam Green plays himself, or I hope, a fictionalized version of himself as he has a tendency to be a bit on the annoying side at times. Way too eager and totally incapable of listening and doing as he is told.
The film cleverly starts of at a horror convention and we are treated to a great intro featuring some of the bold and great of the horror world, telling us what they think monsters are. This scene cleverly sets the documentary tone of the film and helps to give the film a sense of grounding in the real world. Something that a lot of found footage films severely lack. It allows us to fully believe that Adam is going to go monster hunting in a spooky wood with a man who may or may not be loosing his marbles.
William Decker is your classic conspiracy nut, his house is full of pictures, press cuttings,big red arrows on the wall linking the 100's pieces of evidence that, to him proves not only the existence of Monsters but the existence of their home, which Decker names the Marrow. Like all good secret places the entrances to their homes are hidden in isolated, dark and spooky places like deep in the woods. Except one that was in town, because as Decker puts it "they like pancakes". Little snippets like this endows the film with an nice sense of charm.
After our introduction to Decker we are then taken to the woods, where our monster hunters adventure is almost cut short thanks to an encounter with a local law enforcement officer. The scene itself is almost a throwaway scene, however the standard repeated answer that the officer gives to their questions will have you asking yourself, "does he know what is going on? Does he know about the monsters? " It's a clever scene one that adds the very first layer of dread and suspense to what, up until this moment been a rather cheerful film.
From this point forward the film gets real, it may seem that for a lot of the film you are staring a dark forest scene desperately trying to see what Decker sees, just don't stare to intently at the screen as there is one real genuine moment of abject terror. It has been a long time since I was scared so much by a simple jump scare. Green obviously knows the exact moment to throw this at us, even though you kind of know it is going to happen, it still gets you.
From this point in Adam Green, wearing his meta found footage hat is determined to get real proof of the monsters and ups the ante. I won't give any more of the plot away, but interspersing the investigation are two fantastic scenes, one with Kane Hodder, playing himself, where he just doesn't get that what he is seeing is real and not some new film footage that Green is working on. There is also a fantastic scene where Green is speaking to Tom Holland and Mick Garris, where they reveal some very interesting facts about the subject matter. The dialogue here is spot on, especially when they ask Green about his new film. There is a razor sharp snide swipe at the insincere platitudes that come out with at these sort of functions.
Digging Up The Marrow, thanks to it's meta angle succeeds in bring something new and unique to the found footage genre. There is an added layer of believe-ability to it. It may seem odd to call a horror film charming, but you can sense the love and feeling of reverence that Green has for the genre. The film is peppered throughout with nods and references to so many horror films, you will have a great time spotting them all. Obviously the biggest nod and wink is to Barker's Nightbreed, with its race of monsters living in an underground haven.
Adam Green's direction and screenplay are tight, and the mounting sense of dread that happens once we go on the monster hunt is sustained right up until the very clever and for a found footage film a surprisingly great ending. My biggest problem with found footage films is how do we get to see the final film, just who is going all the way into Blair Witch county, and actually going into the cellar of an abandoned house? I sure as hell wouldn't. Green cleverly gets around this problem by, well you'll have to watch the film to find out.
The creature designs are fantastic, based on the artwork of Alex Pardee, they have a real sense of other-worldliness, they are both terrifying and alluring at the same time. They are sympathetic in their design, full of sorrow and sadness. However lurking behind this sadness are creatures that will haunt your sleeping world.
The real star of this film has to be Ray Wise. Ray has always been a great actor his performance as Decker is a triumph. Full of pathos, sadness and just the right amount of crazy, his performance is pitch perfect. Adam Green also handles himself admirably in front of the camera, even if he comes across as a bit annoying. Kind of like an over child who just can't do as he is told.
Digging Up the Marrow, is a welcome addition to the found film footage genre. It is a clever and witty film that has ample scares for the horror fan. The perfect film for those jaded with the found footage genre, Adam Green has produced a film that knows what its source materials are and has used them to create a love letter to the genre.