Movie Review: Yellow Brick Road

 

This Yellow Brick Road isn’t going to take you to a beautiful ‘Emerald City’ while you skip happily and merrily along with a song. It’s quite the opposite. Imagine a long road leading you to HELL with music that will make you lose your goddamn mind! Directors Jesse Holland and Andy Mitton are well on their way to becoming the new favorites in a dying genre. I say dying because almost everything I see now is crap. I found this film to be a breath of fresh air with all the recent horror films being too predictable and lacking originality. Say what you will about your disagreements on the ending but one thing is for sure, you will be thinking about Yellow Brick Road for weeks. Even if you’re arguing about the film on IMDB, the film has pulled you in. Some critics have said that it doesn’t make any sense and it doesn’t leave you with a satisfactory ending. It’s my strong and humble opinion that so many weak minded viewers want answers handed to them. They don’t want to think about a film several hours later. They dislike a challenge. They dislike straying from the same old tired formula. It’s unfortunate because the filmmakers for Yellow Brick Road knew exactly what they were doing all along and there is a significant answer for the ending. Pay no mind to the naysayers and give it a chance. The ending is quick when it comes (that’s what she said) but is does have a meaning, despite what so many confused viewers have expressed in their overly negative reviews. The film did win ‘Best Feature Award’ at the New York Horror Film Festival in 2010.

Be prepared for several Wizard of Oz references. How could you not with a title like Yellow Brick Road? I kept waiting for someone to click their sneakers and repeat, “There’s no place like home.”

The scenery is gorgeous with saturated colors. The majority of the film is actually pretty bright which is rare because most horror films that scare you tend to be on the darker side. It’s rare that a bright horror film scares you. The atmosphere is phenomenal. I’m guessing this is what the filmmakers spent most of their budget on.

The plot goes a little something like this: In 1940, the entire population of Friar, New Hampshire inexplicably walked up a mountain trial, with all their pets and belongings left behind. A search party and the US Army discovered the remains of roughly 300 missing persons. Several had frozen to death but others were brutally slaughtered. Hundreds of bodies were never recovered. The investigation was closed and covered up. The town eventually rebuilt. In 2008, a writer becomes obsessed with the mysterious disappearance. Teddy, the writer, gathers together a group of ‘professionals’ to come along with him on his hike and quest to find answers on the Yellow Brick Road. Like most horror films, the group starts with laughs and stories on what really happened to the town etc etc ad nauseam. The group’s mental health is also documented. One girl is even asked to meow like her cat she had when she was a young girl. Soon the navigation tells them they’re in Guam and their tracking progress is completely off. The group begins to hear what sounds like music but it’s very faint at first. Then the music’s volume level becomes so loud and so unsettling, they attempt to block out the noise with cotton balls. It’s enough to drive not only the characters but the viewers to lose their goddamn minds. I regret not seeing this in the theater because of the sound effects. Watching it at home with no surround sound just doesn’t do it justice.

Tensions are high between the brother and sister as soon as a mysterious ‘hat’ is discovered. The sister asks her brother to please take off the hat on several occasions. After retrieving the hat from her brother, she pays the ultimate price. Before we know it, all the characters split up and the threads of their sanity slowly start to unfold. Some killing each other and others taking their own lives.

The acting was especially good. My two favorites were Cassidy Freeman (who plays Tess on Smallville) and Laura Heisler, who looks completely different in real life! She gave me creepy vibes and her character was one of my favorites in a group of weak characters. I thought that Tara Giordano was good as the intern but I couldn’t help but notice all the acne on her chin. Still adorable though! Alex Draper was another favorite of mine as the psychologist. Man, he even looked like a psychologist. Cassidy Freeman’s real brother, Clark, plays Daryl. Daryl is the first to lose his sanity. Anessa Ramsey is an extremely gifted actress but I just couldn’t get past her hair! What? I’m a girl! I notice these things and I have pet peeves. It didn’t ruin the film for me. I just couldn’t understand what was going on with the top of her head. Then we have Michael Laurino who plays Teddy, our lead man. The scene where he and his wife are talking to each other over the walkie talkie was very moving. When Ramswey says that if he felt he really had to go and he would have woken her, she would have gone with him. Then he tells her to go home. Very moving stuff. The music was a nice touch.

There are a few gory moments but I wouldn’t say it’s anything close to torture porn or near enough as disgusting as most horror films these days but it gets the job done and pleases gore fans. The human scare crow was a little alarming along with that strange image at the end. What the hell was that? I’m not exactly how I feel about the last image or the poor effects but that was the only complaint I had in that department.

Some scares here and there. The dude hiding in a cave was a good one and it actually gave me chills. I cannot explain what the ending did to me but as corny as that last shot was, it had me pretty freaked.

The film has been compared to Blair Witch Project several times but I wouldn’t compare the two. Yellow Brick Road is far superior to Blair Witch. Blair Witch Project made millions, so what’s wrong with Yellow Brick Road? There are no witches or ghosts haunting the Yellow Brick Road. It isn’t a ‘found footage’ film. The only thing the two films have in common is that they’re surrounded by trees and evil is afoot.

What Does It All Mean? *SPOILER BELOW*

In the commentary, the filmmakers expressed that the music meant death was approaching and the road was their own pathway to hell. The theater is Teddy’s hell. I’m not sure if it’s suppose to be something different for the others. The Usher is suppose to be an old entity that has been around for a really long time. In interviews, they did explain that the reason for making this film is due to the fact that there have been towns filled with civilians that all just wandered off and disappeared. I’m pretty satisfied with this independent horror film. It’s not for everyone. I imagine you’re going to either hate it or love it. I guess you could say I am in between…. I wouldn’t mind watching a sequel but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen.