I had the chance to screen this film before it was released at the beginning of this year and wrote a fairly pasonate piece about loving the plot so much but after catching it again on
"Netflix Instant Streaming" I thought that it would be fitting to do a full review and to all the naysayers out there, I thoroughly enjoyed this film. However, I do understand why some do not.
In the Fall of 1940, the entire population of Friar, New Hampshire walked together up a winding mountain trail and into the wilderness. Without warning, they left behind everything: their homes, their clothes, and their money. The only clue where they went was a ngle word etched into stone near the forest’s edge: YELLOWBRICKROAD.
A search party eventually discovered the remains of nearly half of Friar's evacuees. Many had frozen to death. Others were cruelly and mysteriously slaughtered. Most were never found.
Over the years, the story of Friar faded into backwoods legend. The town eventually repopulated, but the vast wilderness surrounding the town remains uncharted.
That is the plot synops that we are given and
had our ears perked nce the film premiered at the 2010 Slamdance Film Festival. Wondering if YELLOWBRICKROAD (yes, it's one word that has nothing to do with Oz) would ever get its shot at a theatrical release was the buzz of the festival due to the truly unique nature of the documentary style film.
Luckily, we will see more and more Indy horror films like this in theaters due to a partnership with The Collective (part owners of Bloody-Disgusting) and Bloody-Disgusting Selects (the new film divion that takes Independent and foreign horror films and places them in a theatrical run at the AMC theater chain). The very same theater chain that premiered HATCHET II, and even though it was pulled shortly after its release a theater chain that loves to push the "norm" and truly has a pason for horror films.
The film opens with a title card indicating that in 1940, the entire population of Friar, New Hampshire mply walked into the woods one day and went misng. About half of the misng town are found (around 700 bodies) long dead and that is where we are left. What actually happened and why has us intrigued from the very start.
Borrowing elements from films like THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, a group of filmmakers and researches set off to find out if this mysterious disappearance was mply an unexplained anomaly or a mple urban legend. Thankfully for us, they plan on documenting the entire experience which leads us down a follow the "yellow brick road" type of experience.
Filmmakers Andy Mitton and Jesse Holland
(not the documentary actors portrayed within the film)
did their research and prove their love of the genre borrowing elements from some of the best of the best past horror movies, all while adding a whole new dimenon of slow burn and terror like we've never witnessed before. The cast, as you would expect, is littered with no name actors yet they all play their roles particularly well mixing sarcasm, comedic elements and skepticism. It is a group that you believe in, which is important in a film so dependent on a strong cast of believable characters.The mystery of what truly happened to the towns people of Friar is the driving force from the beginning of the film to the end. Once the group starts to hike deep into the New England forest the pace begins to pick up and strange things start to happen. 40's era muc begins to be heard by the group and while unsettled they somehow pull themselves together. That is until stranger things start to take place. The movie builds the tenon perfectly as members of the group slowly start acting unusual. It starts off very subtle as someone may start mumbling words that others don't quite understand or wandering off from the group. Some loose track of time and are fixated on the 40's era muc that they can't seem to get out of their head.
After this slow burn, build tenon pace, things pick up fast and furious as the madness spreads with the most intense and "hair raing" acts of violence and a strangeness that can't truly be described in words. To go any further into "spoiler" detail would ruin the edge of your seat ride that this film offers.
YELLOWBRICKROAD is by no means an adrenaline pumping start to finish, hack and slash horror film nor does it try or promise to be. This film has a more subtle "throwback" feel in vein of films like THE SHINNING, and more recently Ti West's THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL. The best way to describe the film is "one helleva wild ride in an effort to discover the truth all while pushing through the cloudiness of insanity."The fact that this film got a theatrical release I felt was very warranted and proves that "true" original horror is still alive. It is a step forward to a day that we hope Hollywood will step up and understand that these are the types of films that horror audiences want to see. That uneaness that YELLOWBRICKROAD provides is that rare feeling that even the most jaded of horror movie goers longs for as does the general movie going crowd (think: PARANORMAL ACTIVITY).
While some plot details and unexplained events are crisscrossed, YELLOWBRICKROAD gets more than a "must watch" from us. It is also a must watch for the mple fact that it's on Netflix instant.
I survived the trip down the YELLOWBRICKROAD and I urge you to seek it out and take the journey yourself....Once you do, you will never be the same again
Written by Justin Swarens
UPDATE: To listen to our interview with filmmakers Andy Mitton and Jesse Holland follow this link: viewtopic.php?f=290&t=14328
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