New Release Review : Digging Up The Marrow

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The horror community is a tight-knit one, a fact that anyone who immerses themselves in the culture of modern horror can attest to. It all begins with movies, and extends it’s dark reach into virtually every of modern popular culture. Books, comics, clothing design, and a growing circle of incredible horror artists who are taking their lifelong love of monsters to new previously unexplored depths. Alex Pardee has been one of those independent artists leading the charge with a consistent output of incredible and unique artwork over the past several years. His work has an unmistakable style, and it has been interesting to see his take on classic characters and his style evolve as he creates his own original legion of monsters. In fact his work so inspired horror director Adam Green that he has created a whole film based on the artwork of Alex Pardee, who also serves as an executive producer.
This new film is called Digging Up The Marrow, and it is a winner!
Get out to a theater and support this film this weekend if it is available near you. You will not be sorry.

The story,  in fact, began life in the sketchbook of Pardee, who created a fictional story about the creatures he imagined inhabiting an underground world called the Marrow. As he continued to sketch, he developed the interesting story of one John Decker, who claimed he had seen these creatures in the flesh, and was hoping to spread the word to the world with a detailed account of what he had seen in the woods and below.

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Over the past five years, Pardee began to work closely with Green to develop the idea as a live action feature, and at long last we horror fans get treated with the end result. What Adam Green has crafted from these years of work is an expert-level tale of misunderstood monsters of all shapes and sizes, which turns the found footage sub-genre on it’s head (“It’s not found footage! It’s footage footage!” he argues exasperatedly at one point.) and ultimately reveals itself to be a heartfelt love letter to these ghouls who go bump in the night. Adapting Pardee’s original premise of a strange man convinced of monsters who is trying to share his story, the film is a psuedo-documentary which follows Green and his cameraman Will as they interview Decker and attempt to bring the story of these elusive creatures to the masses.
The intro of the film sets the tone immediately, establishing roots in the horror convention scene in interviews and conversations with horror luminaries such as Tony Todd, Lloyd Kaufman, comedian Steve Agee, and artists like Jason Edmiston and Pardee himself, all professing their love of horror, and specifically, monsters. In one touching tribute to the director’s good friend and frequent co-star, the late and sorely missed Oderus Urungus says “I have been a monster. I will always be a monster. And after I am dead, I will still be a monster.”
The heart of the film is laid from the beginning ; a true love of monsters. And Adam Green is the perfect guy to tell this story ; his likeable presence in front of the camera has been great for his web-series Holliston, and here, playing himself, his love of the dark underbelly shines through and the passion with which he pursues the possibilities of real monsters is infectious. Even though most of his co-horts and fellow horror geeks are skeptical, Green remains a firm believer and it is hard not to get as excited as he is when they get their first glimpse of the creatures in the woods. Kane Hodder shows up and steals one scene as Green excitedly shows him some of the footage only for the horror icon to shake his head and scoff “Found footage? Oh boy, like that hasn’t been done before…”
The whole story is sold even further by the note-perfect performance by Ray Wise (Twin Peaks) as Decker, as he explains the “Marrow” and his relationship with it in a series of amusingly deadpan interviews. He takes some of the more absurd dialogue to new levels with his completely serious commitment to the character. One particularly chilling anecdote tells the tale of Brella, a story we only hear through the telling and a painting of her likeness, but serves as a creepy warning of what is to come.
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In fact it is this kind of ambiguous storytelling that makes the film so effective. In true monster movie form, very little of the creatures are seen full on. In fact, the mythology around these misunderstood ghouls is built surely and steadily with stories like this, small unexplained details, quick glimpses of shadow, until the audience is just as eager as Green is to ultimately confirm or deny the existence of these real monsters. The film moves along at such a brisk pace that sucks the viewer right into this world where something else really is out there in the woods, underneath our feet, living their own lives as we go about ours.
As Decker ultimately reveals himself to be a sort of gaurdian of these misfits with his own secret ties to their society, things escalate beyond control, and the hidden tribe is forced to defend themselves and protect their territory, as Green and his crew continue to film.  The unpredictability of the third act keeps the viewer guessing the whole time, and shows us some truly innovative sights, equal parts terrifying and heart-wrenching. The practical effects based on Pardee’s unique artwork are convincing and creepy as hell, especially the way they are presented to us, not as special effects but as real breathing beings. One of the many triumphs of this truly amazing and memorable film.

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Overall, Digging Up The Marrow is a top-notch entry in to the horror films of 2015, and a confident move in a new direction for director Adam Green. Here’s hoping he continues to make innovative passion projects like this for years to come.
I can’t recommend this film enough. This is a must-see for horror geeks of all shapes and sizes.
Digging Up The Marrow opens in limited theaters tomorrow February 20th, and simultaneously On Demand that same day.
It will be available on DVD and Blu-Ray on March 24th, 2015.
For more news and updates, follow Adam Green on Alex Pardee on Facebook.
Grade : A

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