In 1940, for reasons that remain unclear, the entire inhabitants of the town of Friar took a few belongings with them and walked up a mountain trail through the backwoods of New Hampshire. Most died violent deaths in circumstances still unknown and many more simply disappeared. The tragedy was covered-up for many years, the town slowly re-populated and the co-ordinates of the trail held back from the public. In the present day, with the release of new records, a small group of investigative academics head along the trail in an effort to decipher what actually happened all those years ago…….
YellowBrickRoad looks like a slow-burning psychological horror movie with the added bite of an intriguing premise. Despite being blessed with a genuinely eerie story, the film-makers struggle to maintain audience interest throughout some parts of the film. This is basically because for too long nothing really happens; the group just traipse around the woods charting the landscape and hearing strange 1940s music. What is so surprising is that our band of explorers don’t seem to think that hearing ‘tinny’ 1940s jive music in the middle of the woods is that absurd…..
For a low-budget effort the cast is solid, and although individual character development is weak, they do well in their performances as a group of people struggling with a descent into isolation and madness. The film is creepy in parts but I wouldn’t go as far as to say that it is frightening in any meaningful way. That said, only a couple of amateurish gory murder-scenes puncture the generally tranquil, ‘trippy’ and relatively ominous atmosphere of the whole movie.
Although comparisons with “The Blair Witch Project” are inevitable, this film is quite different. The directors refrain from any final revelation or explanation and leave it to the viewer to decide what actually happened on the ‘YellowBrickRoad’. Still, the ending is incredibly grandiose and frustrating to the point of being almost nonsensical and the movie could have more sensibly ended 5 minutes previously.
I suppose YellowBrickRoad is most notable for the interesting quirk that the soundtrack we hear as the audience is identical to the music heard by the on-screen cast. Strangely, there are also numerous – but I’m afraid pointless – references to “The Wizard of Oz”. You get the impression that the directors wanted to go somewhere with it all but just ran out of steam, leaving you a little irritated at these references once the film is over.
All in all, if you like watching a disparate group of people losing their minds in the woods, then this film is for you. If not – and also if you’re no fan of loose-ends – avoid.
hotdog rating: 4.5/10