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John’s Horror Corner: Digging Up the Marrow (2014), a pleasant horror-comedy mockumentary about real monsters living among us.

April 18, 2021

MY CALL:  This is a very charming, unpretentious, self-aware, playful mockumentary. This film was far from what I expected, but no less enjoyable for it. I’d love to see a sequel about the creatures of The Marrow.  MORE MOVIES LIKE Digging Up the Marrow: For more mockumentary-esque or documentary-gone-wrong horror I’d strongly recommend Lake Mungo (2008), The Last Exorcism (2010), Grave Encounters (2011), Grave Encounters 2 (2012), The Taking of Deborah Logan (2014), Hell House LLC (2015), Demonic (2015), Ghost Stories (2017) and Butterfly Kisses (2018).

A breath of Horror Convention fanfare sweeps us away into nostalgia as we reflect on how and when and why we came to love horror. And if these monsters that we’ve come to love, or at least some monsters analogous to them, were in fact to exist then where would they exist?

At first, this feels like an absolutely real documentary. I love Grave Encounters (2011), but it’s so slickly written and shot; the complete opposite of Marrow, which is affably clunky and takes the time to reveal presumably true aspects of a director’s relationship with the fans and their physical fan mail. Describing his reaction to his fans’ love of his films and the genre, real-life horror filmmaker Adam Green (Hatchet I-II, Victor Crowley, Chillerama) is likably awkward in front of the camera as he introduces this documentary effort to tell the story of William Dekker (Ray Wise; The Lazarus Effect, One Missed Call, The Butterfly Room, Chillerama, The Rift)—a man who claims to have discovered “real” monsters.

Dekker explains on camera that these monsters are of human origin and they exist in The Marrow, an underworld hundreds of feet below the surface. This is where you know this film is not only not a real documentary, but a goofy satire. Dekker’s story is at times well thought out yet beyond unfeasible, but delivered with a straight face. From here things get hokey, clearly a deliberate comedy. I find the tone charming even if overtly goofy at times.

Accompanied by his real-life cinematographer (Will Barratt), Green’s interviews and fieldwork dig deeper into Dekker’s ridiculous claims… until they find actual evidence of a creature!

There is no gore at all and creature effects (heavily concentrated in one great scene) were limited by a very low budget. But there some very provocative visuals nonetheless and the movie hardly needs for us to see anything at all. This film instead thrives on the wacky entertainment value of watching Dekker’s story unfold. The story has its developments. They’re silly, but they work for the tone of the film. And everything builds to a final act that is goofy, ridiculous, deliberately stupid, kinda terrible and kinda wonderful.

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