YellowBrickRoad (2010)

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Something a bit different and probably quite divisive, writer-directors Jesse Holland and Andy Mitton have created something here that I really enjoyed and managed to make an outdoor trail seem very much like a spooky corridor in some haunted house, no mean feat.

Opening with a statement that in 1940 the entire population of Friar, New Hampshire went for a walk along a trail and ended up dead except one, who is heard on an audio recording and sounds a little removed from sanity. It’s an intriguing tale, a mystery, something that author Teddy Barnes can’t resist investigating. After a long time meeting nothing but resistance, he finally gets enough information collected to find the trail and walk along it with a group of people to both keep him company and take notes and readings as they walk forward together. But there’s nothing invented that can really record the effect that the trail can have on people.

Essentially just another “people lost in the woods” movie, don’t write YellowBrickRoad off after hearing that from anyone because, trust me, this is very different from any other movie of this type. It’s creepy, has the occasional moment of nastiness and remains impressively unique from start to finish (though the end is weak compared to all that has happened beforehand).

The cast are all excellent. Michael Laurino is Teddy Barnes, Anessa Ramsey is his partner Melissa and the rest of the ensemble includes Cassidy Freeman, Clark Freeman, Laura Heisler, Alex Draper, Tara Giordano and Sam Elmore. Whether having fun with each other or being driven almost out of their minds by a constant barrage of music and ear-hurting noise, this bunch are all pretty convincing in their roles.

The script, and execution of it, does well with the creepy visuals, subtle and not-so-subtle nods to other movies (including, unsurprisingly, The Wizard Of Oz) and sound design that, love or hate, is the best I have heard in a low-budget, independent horror movie.

I’m just so glad that the film-makers didn’t go down the well-worn “found footage” route with this film and simply set out to make something impressive and different that deserves a lot of praise, even if it does fumble things at the very end of the journey.

DIRECTORS: JESSE HOLLAND, ANDY MITTON
STARS: MICHAEL LAURINO, ANESSA RAMSEY, ALEX DRAPER, CASSIDY FREEMAN, CLARK FREEMAN, LAURA HEISLER, LEE WILKOF, TARA GIORDANO, SAM ELMORE
RUNTIME: 101 MINS APPROX
COUNTRY: USA

Film Rating: ★★★★☆

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