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New Hampshire 1940: the citizens of Friar begin a long trek down a winding brick road out of town. While the slaughtered remains of some would be found, most would simply disappear, and only one man, too lost in his insanity to tell the tale, would survive. Just what lies at the end of the YELLOWBRICKROAD?
Seventy years later an expedition sets out in the footsteps of Friar's lost population to find out exactly what happened. As the group travels deep into the New Hampshire woods, compasses fail and a strange sound moans from deep within the lush greenery. Eventually the sound transforms into a song and the mystery begins to unfold...
These are the kind of films I love- horror that does not abandoned the element of mystery. YELLOWBRICKROAD establishes this element in the first frame and never lets the audience off the hook until the end. ROAD's journey is extremely intense, and at times brutal. There is no Tinman, Scarecrow, or annoying dog (as we think of dogs, at least), yet the allegories to THE WIZARD OF OZ go far beyond the title of the film. Occasional nods to Dorothy’s tale are subtle and intelligent, eliciting “ah-ha” moments that are much more rewarding than being slapped in the face with easier, more obvious homage.
The approach is simple: no latex monsters and no heavy gore. The filmmakers instead rely on a well-planned story that engages and carries the audience as things unfold. The film is guilty, on several occasions, of an over-reliance on digital effects where practical stunt work would have better delivered, but overall the photography, and creative integration of still images, looks fantastic. Despite an unnecessary round-table character introduction fifteen minutes in, the on-screen relationships are well established thanks to strong performances all around.
The use of diegetic sound is perfect. The audience hears only what the characters hear, resulting in a rare cinematic first-person experience where the viewer almost can't help but descend into insanity along with the poor souls on screen. The music is uncontrollable, at times starkly silent, and brutal and maddening elsewhere.
YELLOWBRICKROAD is about the journey not the destination, demonstrated by a weak ending that doesn't live up to the tone and quality established by the rest of the picture. This is a common problem when creating a story that can never satisfy expectations at its end (LOST, SOPRANOS, SEINFELD, ALF, etc… ), but in the case of YELLOWBRICKROAD a non-ending would have been preferable to the ending the audience is given. I guess it’s just like Miley Cyrus says: “Ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side, it’s the climb." No one ever thought I could get a Miley Cyrus reference into a review. Now who’s shaking their hips like “yeah?"
The DVD release of YELLOWBRICKROAD is sparse on special features, offering only a director’s commentary, but the transfer is very well done with little quality loss to video or sound.
DVD/ Blu-ray Reviews
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