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“DIGGING UP THE MARROW” (Blu-ray Review)

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With most films, especially in the horror genre, it’s always best to go in with as little knowledge as possible as to what’s coming as to prevent entering with unfair expectations. After all, as reviewers, we have an obligation to approach all projects for review with an open mind and as little baggage as possible; we’re champions of cinema, and should always be looking to raise it upon our shoulders than push it under our feet. Yet with some films, such as DIGGING UP THE MARROW, the film is so tied into the filmmaker’s DNA that the overall viewing experience will, somehow, someway, be tampered by one’s take on director/star Adam Green. If you’re a fan, or indifferent, or unknowing of Green’s past work, MARROW will work on many levels, and from this writer’s review some weeks back, the film is both a narrative and technical success for Green and Co. But if you’re actively not a fan of Green, MARROW won’t do much to change that, as Green or Green’s properties are referenced in almost every scene in this film.

However, that’s the intention of MARROW, a byproduct of a personal work by Green that is likely his most ambitious (and strangely also minimalist) work to date. Even the most ardent Green haters will have to admit that MARROW does work on some levels: the monstrous moments, Ray Wise’s powerhouse performance and the dark mythology inspired by Alex Pardee’s work all cannot be denied as effortlessly strong. But for every positive in the film, there are moments that equally fall flat, especially when the stakes are that of another season of HOLLISTON, and are never quite raised until the last 10 minutes of the film.

And as much as Green’s direction is superbly engaging when building suspense, the fact is that for a professional filmmaker who is trying to frame his film as a documentary, there are many scenes that look instead like a behind-the-scenes featurette as opposed to an actual documentary. In fact, on the Blu-ray, there are actual documentaries that look and feel more authentic than MARROW itself, positing a very strange duality. Luckily, the film itself, while never quite progressing to the point of “great,” does well to establish Green as a filmmaker who is developing in an unexpected way, offering a radically different tone with MARROW as opposed to his previous cinematic endeavors.

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MARROW also has the distinction of having a solid Blu-ray release courtesy of Image Entertainment, who give the film a striking HD presentation as well as some remarkable bonus features, especially for those interested in the development of MARROW’s monsters. The film, shot documentary-style with digital video cameras, retains its natural high definition presentation with Image’s crisp 1080p video transfer and impressive audio mix, allowing curious viewers to check out the film the way it was meant to be seen. The film itself also comes with a commentary from Adam Green, cinematographer/co-star Will Barratt, star Ray Wise and artist Alex Pardee, which is mostly dominated by Green as he talks about the film’s development, individual scenes and even gives away a major, previously-shrouded-in-mystery spoiler about Dekker’s motivation, although Wise, Barratt and Pardee’s periodic interjections keep things lighthearted as well.

As for the special features for MARROW, the glowing gem of the disc is clearly the “Making the Monsters” documetary, a near 30-minute documentary on the making of the film’s rogue gallery of monsters. Every monster in the film gets a spotlight here, some even more so than their appearance in the film, and the process of how these monsters were made was stunning; clearly, Pardee, SFX supervisor Robert Pendergraft and sculptor Greg Aronowitz were clearly in love with bringing these monsters to life, and it shows. MARROW also features a few deleted scenes from the film, each personally introduced by Green himself, with the most compelling being that of an extended take on Dekker’s first interview, which further establishes Ray Wise’s absolutely phenomenal performance even beyond what did make the film. The disc also features the theatrical trailer for MARROW as well, for those who like checking out that sort of thing.

Overall, if you’re looking for an epic monster movie, MARROW might not be it, but Green does offer a more intimate and fascinating monster hunting tale anchored by an amazing Ray Wise. And for those sold on that premise alone, the “Making the Monsters” documentary on the Blu-ray will gives fans their fill of the monsters as well, showing how they were made down to even the weirdest anatomical details. In any case, for fans of Green, picking up MARROW is a given; for everyone else who decides to take the plunge into MARROW, hopefully the film will live up to your satisfaction, even if the excellent features offer a cinematic fail-safe on the Blu-ray.

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About the author
Ken W. Hanley
Ken W. Hanley is the Managing Web Editor for FANGORIA and STARLOG, as well as the former Web Editor for Diabolique Magazine and a contributing writer to YouWonCannes.com. He’s a graduate from Montclair State University, where he received an award for Excellence in Screenwriting. He’s currently working on screenplays, his debut novel "THE I IN EVIL", and various other projects, and can be followed on Twitter: @movieguyiguess.
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