Digging Up The Marrow (2014) Review

FF bannerMarrow_poster[1]Digging Up The Marrow (2014)

Dir: Adam Green

Written By: Adam Green

Starring: Adam Green, Ray Wise, Will Barratt

98 mins.

UK release: Frightfest 2014

While filming a documentary about monsters, filmmaker Adam Green is contacted by an ex-police officer who believes he has found the entrance to their underground world.

Digging Up The Marrow has no trailer, no teasers, and barely a poster to signal its existence. And that is exactly how writer-director Adam Green wants to present it to you.

Inspired by the true story of a fan that contacted Green and informed him that Victor Crowley is real and he’d got his story all wrong, the film took four years to complete and is, by all accounts, a labour of love. It’s also one of the most remarkable, modern horror movies you’re likely to see.

Filmed in the style of a documentary – it’s more of a mockumentary even though, as Green argues, it isn’t exactly Spinal Tap – Marrow follows the man himself, along with his buddy Will Barratt, as they embark upon a strange journey to discover whether monsters are, in fact, real. The always welcome Ray Wise plays grizzled former cop William Dekker, a man who claims to know where the entrance to the monsters’ secret world (the Marrow of the title) lays, and who agrees to take Green, Barratt and their many cameras there. To say any more would risk spoiling the fun, and this is the definition of a film one must go into completely green (no pun intended), but suffice to say nothing is what it seems and anything is possible.

Marrow1[1]Anyone who’s grown up feeling more at home on the dark side will find plenty to love about Digging Up The Marrow, which opens with testimonies from horror experts such as Lloyd Kaufman, Evan Dickson and even Green’s dearly-departed buddy Dave Brockie who proclaims, in full Oderus Orgungus getup, that he’s always been a monster and when he dies, he’ll be a dead monster. Green’s buddies pop up all over the place throughout the flick, but Kane Hodder (who starred as Victor Crowley in Green’s Hatchet trilogy) steals the show as he watches creepy footage with the eager filmmaker only to dismiss it all as a hoax – “Found footage, that hasn’t been done before” he quips, dashing his hopes.

The many additions of “real” people give Marrow a more realistic, documentary feel in spite of the casting of Wise. Green was conscious that audiences might think they were being tricked, hence his decision to cast a known actor in the lead role, but certain commentators have called bullshit on this, claiming they believed the film to be the real deal until he showed up as Dekker. This argument is, of course, ridiculous as anyone who has caught the film can attest – it’s about monsters, after all.

Digging Up The Marrow is an old school horror flick. There is no violence or gore whatsoever, and yet the tension and the threat are so real, it’s suffocating even when it goes a bit ghost train-y, with a succession of incredibly effective jump scares – none of which are cued by the usual screech of violins, thankfully. Green is a proponent of practical effects over CGI, with his Hatchet series in particular making a case for the resurgence of gooey latex. He notes that horror “is scariest when it’s real” and, without giving too much away, the SFX in Marrow prove even further that there is something much more frightening about an actual, three-dimensional presence, which simply cannot be replicated on a computer. The film’s title is inspired by an art show that Green’s friend Alex Pardee did about monsters, and the attention to detail really shows, even down to the gorgeous poster artwork.

Considering it’s presented as a documentary, and might be seen by some as a really weird vanity project, Green chooses to present himself in a nicely self-deprecating manner. We’re first introduced to him as Barratt suggests that maybe they should hire an actor to play him, and his eye-rolling, yet ultimately desperate-to-believe, childlike reactions to Dekker’s claims make his outlandish stories come to life. The film also provides an interesting look into the inner workings behind Green’s production company Ariescope, and even his home life (though he was quick to point out that he did not use his real house for filming) with his wife, whom he has since divorced. It’s rare that we get such an insight into the personal life of a filmmaker, even one as open as Green, so it’s nice to be allowed in a little bit.

Marrow2[1]In spite of its well-judged undercurrent of self-referential humour – and it is very funny – Digging Up The Marrow is a profoundly scary film. Green himself starts off as a bit of sceptic, and his reactions to Dekker’s increasingly wild claims make the first act slip by without the audience realising they are being lulled into a false sense of security, allowing for one of the greatest frights in modern horror to occur – and it really must be experienced, words cannot do it justice. The closing sequence is truly terrifying, especially considering what’s come before it, and it’s impossible to look away even though hiding behind one’s hands seems like the smartest option. It’s testament to Green’s skills as a filmmaker, and indeed his knowledge as a horror fan, that Marrow moves along so seamlessly in spite of its lack of any obvious narrative structure. When the end comes, it’s a shock – as well it should be.

Digging Up The Marrow is not the best horror movie you’re going to see this year, because chances are you won’t get to see it. But it is the best horror release of the year by far, even without a release, and it further proves that Adam Green is one of the most interesting filmmakers currently working within the genre. If you’ve never taken him seriously before, now is the time to start.

Rating: 9/10

Hatchet 3 (2013) DVD Review

HATCHET 001HATCHET III (2013) DVD

Review by: Dave Wain

Stars: Danielle Harris, Kane Hodder, Zach Galligan, Caroline Williams, Parry Shen

Written by: Adam Green

UK Certification: 18

UK RRP: £12.99

UK DVD Region: 2

Runtime: 78 minutes

Directed by: BJ McDonnell

UK Release Date: 31st March 2014

Distributor: Metrodome

A lot has been said about the demise of the slasher film these last few years, coupled with regular face palm orientated head shaking at the amount of CGI gore that has crept into the horror industry. While this is true to an extent, with all darkness you’ll often find some light and here that light is Adam Green. The 38 year old writer / director wowed horror fans with the creation of Victor Crowley for the first Hatchet film in 2006, and despite relinquishing the director’s chair for this chapter it’s his pen that wrote the script.

Taking over behind the camera duties is BJ McDonnell, himself a veteran of the franchise as the camera operator whilst returning onscreen is genre favourite Danielle Harris, legendary stuntman Kane Hodder (Friday 13th) and Zach Galligan (Gremlins). Following a brief recap of the end of Hatchet II which saw Marybeth (Harris) dispose of Victor in the most goretastic way possible, she finds herself in the local police department holding the prized scalp of Victor Crowley. Sheriff Fowler (Galligan) attempts to get to the bottom of Marybeth’s story but finds it hard to get past how unbelievable it sounds – that is until an on-site report from his colleagues uncover the scale of the carnage.

HATCHET 002As the Sheriff heads to the scene to begin his investigation, a nosey local reporter Amanda Pullman (‘Stretch’ from TCM2 no less) is keen to do a piece on this fast breaking story. After being rebuffed by the Sheriff, she decides the only way to get on board the case is to post bail for Marybeth. Meanwhile, back in the swamp the body (or bits of) of Victor Crowley has been recovered and body-bagged and placed on board the boat that carried the police to the scene of crime. Thankfully though, as Marybeth had dismembered him to such an extreme degree, he surely couldn’t possibly post any further threat now… could he? Damn right he could – he’s back, and only one woman can end this.

For reasons of full disclosure I have to admit I’m a fully-fledged member of the Hatchet fan club, and even if this second sequel was the horror equivalent of Plan 9 from Outer Space I have a nagging suspicion that somehow I’d manage to find something glowing to say about it. However, that is most certainly not the case as Adam Green has delivered a film that takes the rule of diminishing sequels, rips it up and fires a 12 gauge right into its heart. Most heartening is the fact that this sequel feels like a natural progression, as opposed to a cynically created vacuous bit of filler. As always it’s great to see your much loved character return such as Marybeth, and here Danielle Harris proves that she’s an undoubted horror icon. Kane Hodder too embodies the prosthetics of Victor Crowley, and we even get a Jason vs Jason face-off as Hodder does battle with Derek Mears who played the Friday 13th icon in the remake. Also, special credit to Parry Shen as well (playing his third different character in this franchise!) who brings some welcome humour to the movie.

HATCHET 003The Hatchet films are horror movies made by horror people for horror fans. It’s that simple. Victor Crowley is an excellent creation, and the way the series uses practical effects so prominently surely demands a level of respect towards it. The transition from Adam Green to BJ McDonnell as director is seamless no doubt due his role on the previous two films, and the fact that the series creator is still writing the sequels is a badge of quality all in itself. If you say you’re a horror-fiend, and you DON’T have any of the Hatchet films in your collection, then use the release of Hatchet III to remedy that. It’s a blood soaked love letter to the slasher genre.

7.5 out of 10