Thursday, March 21, 2019

Digging Up the Marrow (2014)

If you say "lower-budget passion project about monsters", I'm usually going to reply with "yes please". However, with Digging Up the Marrow, I'm having some slight viewer's remorse.

This "found footage" mockumentary is a strange mix of smug self-congratulation and geeky love letter from writer/director Adam Green. The creatures are drawn and designed by Alex Pardee and sculpted by Greg Aronowitz and they, along with the excellent Ray Wise, are the best thing about it.

We follow Green as he abandons writing duties for his then-popular (and real) TV show Holliston to go monster hunting with a man called William Dekker (Wise). Accompanying them is Green's real-life cinematographer and collaborator Will Barratt, who acts as camera man.

Wise was cast as an audience "signpost" of sorts so that they didn't get too convinced that this might be real and feel cheated at the first big reveal. While I get the logic of this, Wise's amazing, intense, wild-eyed self sits awkwardly next to literally everyone else onscreen. From Green's staff to cameos from other genre names, the acting in this is worse than daytime soaps. The dialogue, apparently scripted, does nothing to help matters as it's so uninteresting and long-winded that it comes across as bad improvisation.

This kind of criticism - and sadly, it's one I have with some regularity in this sub-section of horror - always makes me ponder the nature of "reality" a bit. Yes, the point of this is that it's meant to be amateur and real, so what's the problem? The problem is that to be enthralling and tense, this shit still needs a framework of considered, careful choices on which to drape its reality. As a filmmaker and horror obsessive himself, I would have assumed Green had better judgement than what is shown here.

And to get petty for a second, Green and his staff are almost exclusively shown wearing T-shirts advertising his own work... It's just a bit much? 

Is this a meta wink? Or does Digging Up the Marrow just have something in its eye?

And they all look brand new. I don't know why this irritated me so much.

This took five years to make, and I have to be brutal and ask, was it actually worth it? I see what he was trying to accomplish, but he just didn't get there soon enough or enough, enough, for my liking.

"Dig it up" on Shudder now. (...sorry).

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