YellowBrickRoad

Directors: Jesse Holland/Andy Mitton

Notable Cast: Michael Laurino, Anessa Ramsey, Cassidy Freeman, Tara Giordano, Alex Draper, Clark Freeman

Rating: R

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?

-Natobomb

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About Matt Donato

I love all things film. I'll watch any genre, any actor, at any time. This whole film critic thing is a passionate hobby for now which I'm balancing with working in the business world, but hey, someday, who knows?
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22 Responses to YellowBrickRoad

  1. taylor says:

    Sounds like if you were muttering at the TV, you stopped listening somewhere along the way. I saw this movie at the NYC Horror Festival last year (it won best feature at the festival) and I thought it was really great once you understand that it was a character study and that, like a play, the dialogue is full of layers, very smart layers, that only revealed the characters for people with a big enough attention span I suppose. But I don’t agree with you that the ending is a blindside. If you’re listening, the movie clearly begins to center around the main guy’s decision to leave the others behind and the punishment he receives for making that choice – a slow descent into hell, one which I found pretty harrowing. And you ignore amazing camerawork, really awesome sound design (come on that music is CREEPY), and a hell of a lot of technical merit for a microbudget movie. In my opinion, an awesome film, it was like the Coen Brothers had visited the genre, albeit with a no-name cast.

    • I love this because it’s the perfect comment. I wish everyone could respond like this. Thank you. You’re right, I did leave out the technical aspects which were in fact rather impressive. When writing a review, I try to keep plot points out like the music, but you’re right, I could have mentioned it. Cinematics were spot on and I’d love to see what the directors (if they collaborate) do in the future. And I didn’t really mean Teddy leaving the group being the blindside, more the END end where the movie finishes up. Yes, everything was about how each character was dealing with insanity, hence the psychiatrist being there, but I guess for me it wasn’t enough. I’m not telling you you’re wrong in any way and I respect your opinion fully, you clearly know what you’re talking about, but I needed some extra oomph here. Maybe we can’t see eye to eye here, but check out some of my other stuff, see if you agree elsewhere!

      • jovanny says:

        oh one more thing i agree with everything that “cinema-scrutiny” said in the beginning so don’t say that you respect Taylor that guy is stupid he probably never seen a good movie in his life oh and Taylor read the comment i left on the page i hope it help you later on

      • jovanny says:

        look scrutiny i bet you now more about movie that most people but common these guy docent now shit so don’t respect his opinion because is for people like him huw create crappy movies that think that are good because they like it and im sry to pop Taylor bubble but these movie must be put in the worlds top worst movies of all time and sry for the bad English, English is not my fits language

      • Well I’m glad you agree with me, but the fact of the matter is I get comments telling me how I’m some stupid film snob who doesn’t have any taste and am just some jealous piece of crap because I can’t make my own movie. Go to my Red Riding Hood review to see some of the incomparable drivel people hate me with. So the fact that Taylor could make his point respectfully and intelligently does warrant him some credit. But thank you, it’s nice to know that someone agrees with me haha

      • Will says:

        actually if anyone payed attention at the very beginning the same man at the ending is the same man at the beginning and quoted the same line in both the beginning and ending. also the beginning of the road was at the theater and the theater is where the road ended. almost as if ironically stating that it was all the beginning of the end, the yellow brick road was a journey of self discovery and they each discovered their darkest inner truths in which they suffered for. it was all the devils trap, please feel open to tell me your take on this. -i think the movie was actually quite genius-

      • tough2bgreen says:

        Will _ I shall reply. This is the kind of movie I would use for backround noise when working or cleaning. I do not share in your genius clearly because the movie flopped hard for me. When people started laying on the ground, screaming about how they love this song, I was completely lost. I consider myself a pretty good Catholic, and if this is an example of a “devils trap”, well then I have nothing to fear. Cinema _ I love it when we agree. Knock that junk down to a 5! And that is still generous.

  2. jovanny says:

    the movie suck hard i i thought i was going insane watching the movie i made me want to kill myself and wen the movie ended i soddenly i felt normal again a movie can have great music great quality but if the movie is boring to most people and i mean the 99.9 % percent of people that saw it the the movie sucks horribly and is not even scarry and if it makes you go crazzy like i did , i though i was part of the movie becouse of the degree of insanity the movie gave me the the movie is evil and i am sry to say these taylor but yure that one percent huw like the movie because you don’t now what a real movie is yure probably some moron huw likes watching low budget movies that don’t make sense so please Taylor reply my comment because i want to see what other idiotic thing comes from yure stupid mind i was watching it with 4 other friends and now they hate me for playing the movie at my house and its because of morons “like you Taylor” and the directors !! that thought these was a good movie thaw only thing is good for is to trow it into the biggest pit you can dig put it on fire and then trowing the movie in it and its directors and there stupid 1% fan base that is only members is you Taylor

  3. 1% of the world’s population is 70 million people. That’s a huge fan base buddy. Also, jovanny, please never write on a forum again. I literally got a headache from your terrible sentence structure/spelling. So for the sake of all the forum readers on the internet, throw your computer in a swimming pool and never look back.

  4. jovanny says:

    look you stupid moron i never said the 1 percent of the world i only said the one percent huw saw thise movie its imposibole for the entire world 2 c thise movie and if you got a problom with my spelling well its ok becouse english its not my native language at least i can speak it perfectly but tipping its another thing so go to hell because i bet you cant even speak 2 languages ,one more tning are you taylors boyfriends becouse after i wrote that you quickly defended him man you gay haha

    • Calling me gay? What are you, 6 years old? And actually I’m a Canadian citizen, so I speak French also. You should know that, you creeped my Facebook. Comment est-ce pour une deuxième langue?

      • jovanny says:

        alow me 2 reply in spanish dipshit vete al carajo pedaso de mierda tu madre se lo chupa alos perros tu eres un cabron mamabicho ok let c if you understan that maricon !!

      • jovanny says:

        that all you got 2 say yure 6 years old comebact its pitifulll becuse you now you i was wright and fuck now i dont cake if yure canadien ehh you see tere im putting a canadien accnet wen i finish tipping ehh

    • CookieFritz says:

      Um.. “You gay…?” Why the hell would you even say that? Homophobia is on the same level as racism; you should be ashamed. And just because you can’t spell doesn’t mean you can’t use capital letters and punctuation correctly. Your posts are almost impossible to read, so your opinion is hardly going to be respected.

  5. A racist and a homophobic? Wow, not even worth my time.
    And its typing by the way, not tipping. That’s what you do at a restaurant.

    • jovanny says:

      look at you al high and mighty you think yure the only star in the universe because yure from canada i got news for you i don’t topically hate any country ore nationality i just hate you cuz yure a nobody huw thinks hes smarter than anybody else i bet yure just a loser so du everybody a favor a just burn yure pc so the world docent have 2 sufer because of yure ignorance soo please for yure own good stop being a proud ignorant 🙂

    • jovanny says:

      i still cant believe im still talking 2 a loser like you what am i thinking these is beneath me is like talking with shit or a cockroach i am so terribly can you forgive me cockroach i mean Maitland Waddell 🙂 and if still you dont get what im saying than danngggggg! you stupidddd hahahahahah:)

  6. Pingback: Worst of 2011 Horror | Cinema Scrutiny

  7. Ashley Sutherland says:

    The best part of the entire film (should it be allowed to call itself that) in my opinion, was when the female & male got into an argument in a field about his wearing a hat. I have no idea what the characters names are or what the significance of the hat was because I was reading all of the delightful comments on this page while “watching” the movie. I especially enjoyed the removal of the womans leg and how her buddy/attacker cradled it in his arms after smashing her with a rock. The nonsense of that scene was epic in itself. Also, I appreciated the other male friends of the attacker telling him they loved him from the top of a hill while he cried into the bark of a tree. I hate it when there is an excellent idea and possible story line for a truly scary horror film and it goes and kills itself. What a waste, especially the title of the movie. It could have been Gold, but alas it stayed true to it’s name and maintained a yellow hue. On a lighter note, the secenery was nice.

    • Haha the beauty was there, but as the film got farther and farther in, all ideas just seemed to unravel to reveal a rotted core. Please tell me you laughed as well when the annoying intern jumps off the cliff as well. That to me was where YellowBrickRoad lost all credibility and any viewing integrity. Alas, it sounds like I could deal with the final product a little more than you did, but upon even further reflection, might be reconsidering my initial rating of 6. Like you said: potential was there, but execution was not.

  8. Tony says:

    Just for sh*ts and giggles… I think the idea is that they were trapped in a movie the whole time. The girl at the theater says the townspeople became obsessed with The Wizard of Oz, watching it over and over again before they disappeared. A movie has a soundtrack, which would explain the mysterious music the characters hear. A movie watched over and over again could degrade so that the image would appear to jump and skip, as “reality” or whatever does during that long middle sequence where the characters “stagger around like crewmembers on the Enterprise during a Klingon attack,” as it’s described in one review I’ve read.

    Also, the light the main character sees off in the distance (either right before or right after the herky-jerky stuff stops) resembles the light from a film projector, if you were looking at it from the point of view of the screen. It’s toward the light that he walks, so of course he ends up back at the theater (though it would have made more sense, I guess, if he had actually emerged from the screen, rather than showing up in the lobby – maybe the filmmakers felt that would be too on the nose).

    • Matt Donato says:

      an awesome interpretation for sure. Thanks for actually offering an opinion and not shitting on my review haha it just didn’t work for me though over all, even if that was exactly as it was.

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