Sunday, August 12, 2012

YellowBrickRoad (2010)

Director: Jesse Holland, Andy Mitton
Notable Cast: Michael Laurino, Anessa Ramsey

It has taken me a while to really wrap my head around what I watched in “YellowBrickRoad.” It really is a thinking person’s horror film with how it goes about crafting its simplistic tale of paranoia and the spiral into madness. Yet, I distinctly felt disconnected with the film and its characters despite some strong elements that made it a very unique and interesting watch.

In 1940, the small town of Friar New Hampshire vanished. They all got up together one day, left their belongings and trekked down a trail into the woods where some of them froze, were slaughtered, or straight up disappeared. Now a group of researchers have discovered the trail and have built a little expedition to follow in their footsteps...but what they find on this mysterious 'yellow brick road' may not lead them to the answers that they want.

There is a brilliance to how simply the film makers made “YellowBrickRoad.” The story is very basic in how it structures itself and how the characters are introduced and built upon. What the film does massively succeed in is really making the little things matter. The details are just as important to this film as are the broad strokes of character development and plot twists. It might be fairly cliché in how predictable it was towards the end, but there were a lot of little details in the strong dialogue that made it full circle to work in the end including the odd movie theater references that kept popping up and the repeated references to “The Wizard Of Oz” where this film derives it’s name from. 

"I'd like to request some serious chapstick here."
With that as a foundation, its hard not to feel like the film still played it a little safe at times. With the massive amounts of building paranoia and its focus on how the characters were slowly drifting into insanity, I wanted it to push it even further. It seems to focus on certain details and forget others like how I kept wanting the psychologist’s questions and answers with each character to go for the throat instead of dropping off half way through and only getting a single pay off. I kept wanting to see the madness of these travelers take more creepy paths instead of rather basic ones.

Oh the times of content after eating a big picni...wait a minute!
The film also builds nicely to one moment of gruesome awesomeness with a clear cut reference to the Scarecrow from “Wizard Of Oz”, but after that the film almost dwindles into a relatively flat ending. It makes some great circles with details, but after the Scarecrow incident I wanted it to even go further. To really push the limits and yet, it seemed content with just playing the same atmospheric and character driven style to the very end. It comes off as an ending that is too artistic that loses some of its power through its lacking persistence to make the audience feel insane.

I do recommend watching “YellowBrickRoad” for many of its unique aspects and strong atmospheric touches (the music plot element is definitely a creepy and fascinating touch…were they all imagining it?!), but it could have been a film to redefine horror rather than just one to give it a neat twist. Horror fans might find some love in it, but its flaws come out glaring in the end. 

Written By Matt Reifschneider

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