Directors/Writers: Jesse Holland, Andy Mitton
Starring: Michael Laurino, Anessa Ramsey, Alex Draper, Cassidy Freeman, Clark Freeman, Tara Giordano, Sam Elmore, Laura Heisler, Lee Wilkof
As a horror aficionado, I have a pretty strong heart for these types of movies, but “YellowBrickRoad” filled me with a sense of utter hopelessness. I believe that’s what they were going for, and they get there in a way that masks just how low budget this feature is. This is a horror movie for the horror fan looking for something that he can’t get out of just any old horror flick.
The story follows a group of people hired to help a writer research the disappearance of an entire New Hampshire town’s citizenship. 70 years ago, the entire population of Friar went for a walk in the woods, most were never seen again, those who were turned up dead. Modern day citizens have come to call the trail they walked as Yellow Brick Road. A writer and his wife hire a pair of map makers, a National Forest Ranger, and a Psychologist to walk the trail with them to try to decipher not only what happened to those people, but why. This is not a good idea.
Not wanting to give away any of the details of their trek, I’d like to comment on the mood of the movie. Certainly, it’s no surprise that bad things are going to happen in the woods, but never have I seen a movie that gives the audience such a sense of despair about the characters’ plights. Hoping against all hope is a phrase that comes to mind. Perhaps that’s what the writers-directors wished to explore about the human spirit. Once things start going wrong, there is a sense they will never be right and the people never even had a chance. Yet, the characters want to survive. They do try.
The story and its tone reminded me of the work of Stephen King. A lot of people will relate any horror story to King because he is the most popular modern horror writer. But, just because it’s scary doesn’t mean it’s anything like a King story. This one uses many of his signatures, the first being that perseverance against all hopelessness. The story also uses old legends and music in the same way King often incorporates these elements into a story. The King story that most readily comes to mind is “The Shining”. Nobody here has the psychic abilities of the boy in “The Shining”, and that is where this movie departs from King. Those psychic abilities are his characters’ chance to survive their ordeal. There is no such hope to be found here.