Digging up the Marrow is the new film from Adam Green. It is presented as if it were a documentary, about a man who mails Green a “fan letter” claiming that not only does he know for fact that monsters are real, but he’d like to prove it. I’m not going to summarize the plot for you, as you have IMDB and several other websites where you can get that information. I’m here to talk about the film. I am a fan of Adam Green. That is to say, that for the most part, I enjoy the films of Adam Green. I’m not too fond of the public figure he plays, which is probably why Holliston failed on me, but I feel like Spiral and Frozen are two of the better horror films released within the past two decades. And then there are the Hatchet films. I have remained purposefully ignorant in regards to Green’s new film, Digging up the Marrow. So I was a tiny bit taken aback when the film began as if it were a documentary. I don’t mind horror documentaries, but based on the recently released poster art, I had assumed this to be a straight-up monster movie. It is, and it isn’t, but we’ll get into that a bit later.
If I had to sum up my thoughts on the film, for those of you that lack the patience to read the entire review, I would say that there is a really, really good monster movie within the confines of Digging up the Marrow. It has shortcomings, but ultimately the annoying parts of the movie are easily forgivable, especially when the good stuff kicks in. My main problem with the setup to the film, is that it feels self-masturbatory. Green seems to bask in the cult-like status he has achieved among a certain portion of the horror community. He never wastes an opportunity to sell himself, or to pander to that core demographic. If you worship at the altar of Adam Green – that is to say – your affection for the filmmaker goes beyond simply enjoying his films, as in – you follow every tweet, Facebook post, and any sort of self-promotion Green is currently selling, then this will likely be one of your favorite horror releases of the year. If, however, you find yourself on the outside of that clique, and you just enjoy the films that are the result of all of the pandering and self-promotion, you will find plenty to enjoy, but some of the more egregious examples of pandering throughout the film will not have the same sort of impact on you, as it will for the aforementioned group.
So far, it sounds like I had a less-than-pleasurable experience with Digging up the Marrow, but that’s simply not true. I just wanted to get out-of-the-way, the fact that there are some things in this movie that rubbed me the wrong way. I am a big fan of Green’s films, even the 3 Hatchet films, so I’m no hater. I just genuinely dislike that self-indulgent side of Green, and honestly some of his fans. However, what Green’s new movie does well, it does exceedingly well. The first jump scare of the movie made me literally jump in my seat. It was kind of silly in hindsight, but you’ve waited all of this time, with no idea if anything is ever actually going to happen, and within a breath, something fantastic occurs. During the first portion of the film, I was growing impatient. I was messaging people on Facebook, wondering if this film that so many people are anxiously awaiting was actually a horror movie, or if I was going to be spending the duration watching Green and his friends and family cheese it up for the camera. This is one of those films that – for some – the buildup is going to be a rough ride, but the payoff is well worth sticking it out.
After the first third of the film, I was bored, and just wanted this to be over so I could half-ass a review and move onto the next thing. By the time the last third rolled around, I was hooked. It’s not perfect, and there are certainly things that I wish were done differently, but at the end of my journey, I was a convert. Curiously enough, I had just watched Joe Lynch’s new movie Everly the night before. In case you were unaware, Lynch and Green are friends beyond the screen, and act/produce/etc together on the now-defunct Holliston. If I had to choose a better film between the two of them, I would go with Digging up the Marrow, though neither film are without their own flaws. If you are hoping for a straight-up monster movie, where you are treated to a constant-bombardment of cleverly designed monsters, well, this isn’t that. However, The few fright scenes we are treated to are well worth the wait. Sure, it owes most of its existence to Man Bites Dog and Clive Barker’s Nightbreed, but I really like the direction Green took with the final act of the film, and I feel like he could be onto something with this one. If you were not a fan of the Hatchet films, this will be a nice departure from what you’re used to with Green’s films. It might even get you excited for his future works. I’m giving Digging up the Marrow an emphatic recommendation, with a slight warning. It’s slow, it panders, and Green mugs, but it all pays off at the end.
DIGGING UP THE MARROW will be released on Feb 20, with a limited theatrical release, and day-and-date VOD/iTunes FROM IMAGE Entertainment & RLJ.