Monday, March 2, 2015

Double Review: The Voices & Digging Up the Marrow

THE VOICES. Ryan Reynolds plays Jerry, a regular guy who spends his days working in the shipping department of a factory, and spends his nights talking to his cat, Mr. Whiskers, and his dog, Bosco. And they talk back – probably because he’s mentally ill and stopped using his anti-psychotic drugs a while ago. Did I not mention that?

The Voices is strange, quirky, and deeply unsettling, in large part due to its very stylish veneer. Jerry’s world is viewed through rose-tinted glasses, everything bright and bubblegummy (his work uniform is fuchsia, for example, and scenes are constantly punctuated with pops of pastel pink and blue). But that sugar coating belies what’s really there – the pervasive grime and gore in Jerry’s life that he is only able to ignore due to his illness.

It’s about as black as comedy gets, but it works. Ryan Reynolds is great as a guy who seems just-slightly-off, but still agreeable enough in public (he also does the voices of Bosco and Mr. Whiskers, which are excellent). Anna Kendrick also plays a vital role and is as endearing as ever. I found myself laughing out loud several times, only to be shocked by some truly horrendous bouts of violence just moments later. Call me crazy, but that’s the kind of horror comedy I can get into.

DIGGING UP THE MARROW. Another found footage horror, yes, but more fun and original than any FF movie I’ve seen since… I don’t know, the first V/H/S installment? And trust me, I’ve seen a least a dozen awful ones since then. Adam Green (writer/director of Frozen and the Hatchet movies) plays himself (albeit, I believe, a jerkier version), in the midst of making a documentary about a guy, William Dekker (Ray Wise), who claims to have found real monsters in an underground place he calls “The Marrow.”

The movie was inspired by the artwork of Alex Pardee, and that was the major draw for me; I saw some of the drawings and sculpture featured in the movie and was instantly intrigued. That’s what drew me in, but what kept me going was Ray Wise’s performance. Equal parts funny, sad, and just plain believable, Wise completely anchored the film. It’s worth seeing the movie just to watch him. Finally, I really did enjoy feeling like I was “behind the scenes” in filmmaker Adam Green’s life, especially at the beginning, which felt the most naturalistic by far.

Aside from those aspects, Marrow definitely has problems. There are some good tense scenes, but it’s not a scary movie overall. I think the biggest issue in that department was reconciling the use of the fascinating artwork, which I constantly wanted to see more of, and not showing too much in order to remain scary. The creepiest moments were when you saw almost nothing, but at the same time, I wanted to see more of those creepy-cool monsters. Then when I did see them, I was inevitably less scared than I was moments before. Do you see what I mean?

All in all, I think Marrow might have benefitted if it had been written and edited as an adventure movie, rather than a horror movie. I realize that wasn’t Green’s intent, but its best moments are the fun, wacky ones, where Wise and Green almost seem like two "partners at odds" in one of those buddy cop movies; not the jump scares. In any case, it’s certainly imperfect, but it also has a lot of heart that comes through, making it infectiously enjoyable. I appreciated the effort, and frankly, I’ll probably buy it if only to see what I’m sure will be some awesome behind-the-scenes features.

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