Digging Up the Marrow (2014) d. Adam Green (USA)
I’m not sure if the Hatchet man was trying to take the piss out of the found footage movement or just too damn busy producing his TV show Holliston to bother getting it right, but his latest offering is lame as lame can be. The former proponent of “old school horror” now jumps aboard the faux-documentary express, playing “writer/director Adam Green,” happily spending his days creating material with his pals and weekends hobnobbing with various genre celebs at conventions. Among the celebs that appear as themselves – stiff, mannered versions of themselves – are Kane Hodder, Tom Holland, Mick Garris, Don Coscarelli, Lloyd Kaufman, and Tony Todd. By now, we’re all thinking, “Wow, that Adam Green is pretty cool,” or at least that’s what I think we’re supposed to be thinking. (I remember when I also thought Adam Green was cool, having met him back in 2007 during the pre-release tour for Hatchet. This was, of course, before I realized I didn’t really like any of his movies.)
Anyway, Green (or “Green”) is approached via email by a fevered fan who claims to have discovered a subterranean rift where honest-to-Golly monsters reside. Sensing an opportunity for a freakshow at worst and a chance to see some real creatures at best, the director and his trusty cameraman Will Barratt meet up with our mystery man ... and that’s where it all falls apart. In his infinite wisdom, Green has cast Leland Palmer himself, Ray Wise, to play his strange hermit, thereby tipping his hand that it’s all a big joke. But he then proceeds to play it straight, as though we’re not supposed to know that it’s Ray frickin' Wise playing a character while everyone else is playing themselves.
|"No, just pull your hat down a little more, Ray. No one will know it's you."|
I quite literally spent the next 80 minutes wondering what the hell Green was smoking when he thought this was a good idea. If you’re going to cast the imminently recognizable Ray Wise to play your wacko (and hey, I love the guy, so why not), then your wacko needs to be named “genre staple Ray Wise, who may or may not have a screw loose.” But nope, Wise’s character is named “William Dekker” and we’re just expected to go along with it.
I could almost forgive this if Green had anything new or novel to bring to the table ... but he doesn’t. It’s the same old clichéd “Let’s go check this out, plant a few security cameras, catch a few strange images, everyone thinks it’s a joke, we aren’t getting the full story, oh shit, what was that, oh shit, this story is real, but now it’s too late and ... SCENE” that we’ve seen played out a billion times before. Yes, there are a couple of cool latex monsters (based on Alex Pardee's artwork) that oh-so-predictably show up in the final reel, but by then the goodwill train has run out of steam and fallen off the tracks.
The sad thing is that Green’s fans will likely still rally around the film, perpetuating this substandard schlock out of some misguided sense of loyalty. For me, his “one of us, fan-made-good” act has long since lost its luster; I have no trouble believing that the obnoxious, pushy, self-serving onscreen persona we are presented with is pretty close to the real McCoy these days. Not someone I want to spend another 98 minutes with.
Speaking of running times, and just to add insult to injury, the screener link I was “granted permission” to view needed to buffer so often that I ended up clicking over to watch a different (better) film every time it locked up – and ended up finishing the other one first. Movie reviewing – it ain’t all gravy, folks.
--Aaron Christensen, HorrorHound Magazine