Notable Cast: Michael Laurino, Anessa Ramsey, Cassidy Freeman, Tara Giordano, Alex Draper, Clark Freeman
Review: Don’t think this is a new clever take on The Wizard of Oz. There’s no evil Scarecrow or Tin Man (The Wiz was scary enough anyway). YellowBrickRoad only borrows the idea of a magical road itself, and turns it into an independent horror film. We’ll, kind of horror film, because aren’t horror films supposed to be scary? Chalk this one up to more of a mystery/thriller. Either way, YellowBrickRoad takes an interesting idea and a grizzly start, but runs it into the ground by the final act. It’s disappointing because YellowBrickRoad does manage to delve into brutality briefly, but it’s amazing what a horrible ending can do to everything already established. There’s an interesting psychological aspect at play that makes YellowBrickRoad more than a slasher, but then gets entirely too “meta” to be good old-fashioned horror. There’s just no reward at the end of this magical road, if you can make the whole journey that is.
In the small town of Friar, New Hampshire, there is said to be a mountain trail where in 1940 an entire town mysteriously disappeared down, and then were slaughtered. For years the coordinates were classified, but in 2008 the first team of lucky schmucks is sent in to chart the unmapped area. Headed by photographer Teddy (Laurino) and author wife Melissa (Ramsey), the team (a wildlife expert, two cartographers, a psychologist, an intern, and a curious local) set down the trail named YellowBrickRoad with intentions of reaching the end and trying to discover why an entire town would abandon their lives to wander down a road all at once. But when the team gets deeper and deeper into the woods, they start to discover the eerie trail is far more intricate than imagined. Intricate, and deadly, that is. Bum bum BUMMM! *Dramatic Music*
Even the pictures were boring, this being one of the most exciting. SICK CAMPFIRE SCENE BRO!
I already know this is going to be one of those movies I have a hard time powering a review out for because of how hot…no wait…lukewarm and cold this film was. After a slow start, YellowBrickRoad had a spectacular introduction into the ensuing madness, but peters rather quickly. It was actually good at building hype and intrigue, and also just as capable at completely destroying it. Obviously, these bipolar tendencies tend to keep the film down, and what should have been some of the most intense parts of the film turn out to be boring and predictable. As far as your typical psychological horror story, that’s exactly what YellowBrickRoad is: typical and predictable. The absence of a killer actually took something away for me, because I knew the immediate angle the film would take. This also led to some weak kills, because now the characters basically have to off themselves. The inter’s death especially is laugh out loud worth, but not in a fun horror way. I was laughing out loud at the fact that it was somehow left in the movie and thought to be passable. So face-palmingly bad. And then, oh yes, the end. I love when films, especially horror films, can pull off ambition. Something crazy and out of left field. I had an inkling YellowBrickRoad would try and blind side me with something crazy because there was so much stress put on the fact that no one knows where the trail ends. Well, yeah, it did tend to blind side me, but not in a good way. YellowBrickRoad ends in a “you’re really going to stretch that ridiculously far” kind of way. I was scratching my head while again laughing because the resolution just didn’t stick in the way I’m sure the directors wanted it to. I’m sure they wanted you to gasp at their crazy spontaneity while also thinking themselves to be genius with their ending. Instead, it just doesn’t work. At all. I would have loved to see twenty different horrible things that could have been found at the end of YellowBrickRoad, as the instituted “mind bending” does nothing of the sort.
That’s the overarching problem with YellowBrickRoad, it plateaus far too early and never climbs to that level again. Those looking for blood, guts, and a good time will be sadly disappointed by the slow-moving mind freak to be. Actually no, gore hounds will flat-out hate this one, containing only one real scene of decent splattering. I’ll admit I’m a huge gore hound, but also love a good intellectual mind fucking in its own right. I’m a lover of both approaches, not limiting my choices. But for the reasons above, neither part of me was satisfied. I feel as if the film was trying to rope both fan bases in, but in splitting their focus actually lost clarity in their goals. The psychological aspect is much heavier than the killings, but again it just felt empty and overdone. I didn’t really care for any of the characters, and spent more time admiring the pretty scenery than actually paying attention to what our characters were wasting their time with before they inevitably died. “Go ahead, walk around the woods you silly bastards, just hurry up and get to the good parts.” If I actually talked to my TV, that line would have muttered said over and over again. Not good when the main point of your movie is to make the viewer think.
Do I really need to conclude this bad boy after those thoughts were already expressed? I might be being a little harsh on YellowBrickRoad because it certainly isn’t the worst film I’ve ever seen. It tries, and I do give it a certain amount of credit for that. But a mediocre movie is almost worse than being a bad movie because at least bad movies are memorable. Some of the worst films of all time I can’t get out of my head, while sadly YellowBrickRoad will turn into nothing but another film stashed far away in my mental filing cabinet, probably never to be dug up again and thrown out during the next spring cleaning session.
Final Rating: 6 miles down the deadly beaten path out of 10
WHY IS EVERYONE…talking?