Digging Up The Marrow
I hate found footage movies. The moment a film presents itself as “found footage”, the inevitable problems with filming come up and blast you in the face. Shaky came! Poor lighting! Lack of focus! And all of this has to fit into a narrative that tells a story- Blair Witch Project is still the best example of this technique, but I don’t really enjoy that movie all that much. It makes me dizzy, the acting is often wooden, and the “story” is a little scattered. So I’ve never seen a “found footage” movie that I’ve entirely enjoyed. And every “trick” in a film like that has been done to death. We’ve even had a number of sequels made of the movies using the same technique to the point where the technique has been downright abandoned. ([.REC]?)
Adam Green is one of my favorite directors, though. And if he’s involved with a project I will undoubtedly give it a whirl and see where it takes me. And “Digging Up The Marrow” definitely took me places, one of them being a place deep beneath the earth where real monsters exist and live and hide from the rest of the world. The basic premise of the film is that this is a documentary and Adam Green plays himself and follows a “monster hunter” on his journey to expose the “Marrow” within which a society of monsters live. It’s not a new concept- the monsters are inspired by artist Alex Pardee and the whole project feels a little tertiary with all the other projects that Green has been working on since creating Ariesscope Pictures back in the late 90’s. The Society of Monsters is something we’ve seen a bunch of times before- Monsters Inc, Nightbreed, Etc. etc., so why not a “Found footage” approach to telling that kind of a story? It’d work about as well as a bunch of other recent entries where they watch ghosts, explore the entrance to hell, or follow Bigfoot. And Adam Green knows this- in fact, he’s so aware of it that we see his film crew and friends arguing with him about it. He even argues that the movie itself is NOT a found footage film”.
The film is fully aware of the pitfalls in the “found footage” documentary approach and it delivers all of those pitfalls in a way that draws the audience in and becomes a better story for it. Shitty lighting? Check. Night Vision looks like green blobby excrement on a budget? Big check right there, sure. Unreliable narration? You bet your sweet ass. This movie takes the genre and twists it in on itself- perhaps a little too self aware at times, the film absolutely knows what kind of audience it’s likely to get and plays right to them. Featuring cameos from Mick Garris, Kane Hodder, and an odd assortment of genre favorites, Adam Green delivers a decent little project that explores some interesting ground.
The creature designs are amazing… we see sketches of some monsters that will never appear, all the work of artist Alex Pardee and the film is largely based on his art show “Digging up the Marrow” (the film sees a strong collaborative effort between Green and the original artist). No effect is wasted and we absolutely get to see the creepy-crawlies of the Marrow in all their splendid glory. One of them, in particular, kind of haunted me for a long while after the film was over and left me all giggles with excitement and shibbery awesomeness.
But while it’s good, it just falls a little short of “Great” and I’m still not a fan of the sub-sub-genre that’s become more and more popular as of late. While it’s amusing to hear the producers, editor, and camera operator complain about the lack of light or the shitty conditions and quality of “found footage”, it does nothing to really IMPROVE those conditions. Adam Green as himself comes across as a bit naïve and childish at times and it makes him a compelling protagonist. But it also may be a bit of an error in blurring that line between fantasy and fiction. It does make it hard to take him seriously at times. He portrayal of Adam Green the character is straight out of Holliston, of course- but that just makes the line all the more odd because he’s obviously playing a caricature in the series.
3.5 out of 5.