Written, directed and co-produced by the main actor playing himself is Adam Green. He’s making a documentary about a man who has discovered that just a few yards under our feet there is a parallel world inhabited by what we consider monsters. If there are monsters there Green wants to film them and if there are not, he wants to document the strange personality of the man who claims to have discovered an underground world. Heavily employing money-saving techniques like raw found footage, he tells the story of his long tedious waits watching for monsters at a portal into the underworld of strange creatures. The viewer sees very little in the nature of special effects or special monster make-up. Green is adept in finding ways to stretch a buck letting the words create tension while delivering little visual. Rating: high +1 (-4 to +4) or 6/10
It is hard to pigeonhole ‘Digging Up The Marrow’ as a single or even two or three kinds of film. It is a ‘found footage’ pseudo-documentary mystery horror film that is part comedy. Adam Green starred, wrote, directed, was executive producer and even lent a hand to editing. The only major actor who does not play himself is Ray Wise of ‘Twin Peaks’ and ‘The Journey Of Natty Gann’.
This film is not ‘found footage’ technically because the footage was never really lost. But it is footage shot as the fictional Adam Green – very similar to the real Adam Green – is interviewing monster lovers at a monster lovers’ convention. He is contacted by a man who claims to have actually seen not one but many monsters. Ray Wise plays the mysterious William Dekker, a retired police detective who has devoted his life to finding and studying and revealing to humanity that there is a world beneath our feet where monsters live and have their own society. This place, literally an underworld, he has dubbed ‘the Marrow’. Green and Dekker set up cameras to stand vigil over a portal to the underworld, hoping to see and perhaps film real monsters.
Green (the filmmaker) very intelligently creates tension while never promising to deliver a monster for the viewer to see. The film need not move very fast because the characters are so very patiently waiting and filming the portal into the Marrow. If Green let on that this is a fictional story he would have to deliver monsters in make-up. The viewer is kept in suspense as to what direction the film is taking. Since most of the cast are playing themselves, their acting is nearly automatically authentic. Everybody is a near-perfect representation of himself talking just like the real person does. The dialog is frequently funny, but credible as it comes from witty, artistic people. Since Green is showing where he works, he can freely use product placements of posters for his previous film ‘Frozen’ (2010). The early part of the film is filled with talking head interviews and creative pictures of monsters (fan art) to stoke the viewer’s imagination. The only actor who really has to act like something other than himself is Ray Wise, whose performance is a little exaggerated, but generally strong.
The film has several cameo performances by people really in the film and entertainment business, probably far more than most viewers would recognise. Frankly, the biggest disappointment of the film is that Green, like so many young filmmakers, cannot think of a clever and original way to close out the final minutes of the film. In this case, the film ends with a yawn of familiarity. Green needs to work on that problem for his next film. But there is enough different here that ‘Digging Up The Marrow’ is a worthwhile film to see or rent. I rate it a high +1 on the -4 to +4 scale or 6/10
cast: William Dekker, Adam Green, Will Barratt and Rileah Vandrbilt
© Mark R. Leeper 2015