If you’re an average, mainstream horror movie fan, you’re probably unaware of Adam Green and the awesome talent he possesses. But if you consider yourself a true fan of the horror genre and you still haven’t heard of Adam Green, you’ve been living under a frigging rock.
Does the Hatchet trilogy ring a bell to you? Or an independent film called Spiral, which he co-directed with star Joel David Moore? Perhaps you’ve heard of Frozen, a nail-biting thriller full of gasps and scares? Or maybe a little show called Holliston, which is currently being prepared for its third season in 2016?
If you haven’t seen at least one of these titles, do yourself a favor and familiarize yourself with Green and his work. You’ll be hearing lots about him in the near future. The man has been on fire since stepping onto the scene with the release of Hatchet.
When the internet first started buzzing about Hatchet, I kept hearing the term “old school horror” being thrown around. And needlessly to say, I was amped. The reviews alone made it a must-see for me. I was practically salivating over its release. When it hit shelves, I picked up a copy of the DVD the same day it came out.
I popped the disc in, pressed play, sat back, and enjoyed. I laughed. I winced. I gasped. I shuddered. And I laughed some more. Hatchet is definitely a throwback to the beloved horror films of the seventies and eighties, but it has enough clever dialogue and gruesome special effects to stand on its own.
But enough about my love for Hatchet and Adam Green’s work. Let’s get to the topic at hand, shall we?
Digging up the Marrow is a monster movie that’s presented in the style of a documentary…I know what you’re probably thinking. How original, right? A horror documentary. That’s never been done before.
Yes, it’s true, the horror industry has been beating a dead horse lately with all these mockumentaries and found-footage releases. That’s why Digging up the Marrow is truly a breath of fresh air. The footage is not grainy or poorly lit. It’s professionally shot and exceptionally well written.
Adam Green and cinematographer Will Barratt play fictionalized versions of themselves. And I think they made the right call on that one. It would have been easy to cast real actors to fill their roles. But a “documentary” by Adam Green and starring Adam Green adds a sense of realism to an otherwise implausible story. And I’d be lying if I said Adam wasn’t a likable guy. He’s clever, witty, relatable, and he clearly has a passion for horror movies. And Will Barratt seems like a decent guy too, but he spends more time behind the camera than in front of it.
The plot is relatively simple. Adam has been contacted by a man named William Dekker (brilliantly portrayed by the ridiculously underrated Ray Wise). Dekker claims to have found proof of the existence of monsters.
Dekker has allegedly found an entrance to the “the marrow”, an underground network where monsters of all different shapes, sizes, and varieties seem to dwell. And he wants Adam to film his discovery and share it with the world.
But is Dekker speaking the truth or is he coo-coo for cocoa puffs? Are these the ramblings of an escaped mental patient or the tales of a man who has seen things that society was never meant to uncover? That’s what Adam and Will spend their time trying to figure out throughout the movie.
Dekker, supposedly a former a detective with the Boston Police Department, is quite an eccentric character with a questionable background. But when Adam and Will follow up on these claims, they learn the Boston PD has never heard of Dekker, only adding to their concerns about the legitimacy of Dekker’s stories. For the most part, all Dekker has to share are brief stories, alleged encounters, and sketches of some of the creatures he’s supposedly encountered. It’s only natural for Will and Adam to feel skeptical.
Until one night, filming out in a cemetery with Dekker, they encounter something beyond natural description, and capture it all on film. Something that scares even Dekker, and something that forces Adam to start believing.
Dekker is clearly hiding something. He has a “storage room” that’s chained shut. He doesn’t like to talk about his family, specifically his son who may or may not still be alive. In fact, it’s heavily implied that Dekker’s son might very well be living among the creatures that dwell within the marrow.
Some keyboard warriors have proclaimed the film is nothing more than shameless self-promotion. And it’s kind of hard to deny that fact once you’ve seen all the movie posters and paraphernalia in the background. And almost everyone in the movie wears a T-shirt that promotes one of Adam’s films or his television show. But the film is a whole lot more than self-promotion or self-awareness.
Others complained that you only see brief images of the monsters. If they had filmed it up close, you would be able to tell you’re looking at nothing more than makeup, foam, latex, and other appliances. Seeing them at a glance or from a distance changes your perception entirely. It shows you just enough to terrify you, but leaves the rest to the imagination.
With this film, it’s not just about what you see. It’s about what you don’t see. And it’s an extremely effective approach. Your mind forces you to fill in those blanks and visualize the unseen horrors that lurk just out of frame.
With brief appearances by Don Coscarelli, Kane Hodder, Oderus Urungus (Dave Brockie), Lloyd Kaufman, Tony Todd, Tom Holland, and Mick Garris (all playing themselves), this latest effort by Adam Green and company is definitely worth a view. Tom and Mick have a very funny and enjoyable cameo when they bump into Adam at a horror convention (“I’m not signing a release”).
So if you’re an Adam Green fan, this might be his best film to date. And it would be a shame if you missed it. But if you’re not familiar with him or any of the other names I’ve mentioned, this might not be your cup of tea. Or just check it out anyway and give it a try. You might be pleasantly surprised.
The film was partially inspired by artwork from artist Alex Pardee (it wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t mention him and his contributions)
Almost no CGI was used in the making of the monsters to keep the designs faithful to Alex Pardee’s artwork
This film took five years to complete