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Thursday, June 9, 2011

YellowBrickRoad (2010) Horror Haunted Forest

YellowBrickRoad (2010) - In 1940 the entire population of Friar N.H. dressed in their Sunday best and walked off into the woods. They left behind their lives and apparently their sanity. Later the army finds the remains of the frozen and murdered town folk. There is no explanation to why this happened but it is a mystery that has haunted our main character Daryl Luger (Clark Freeman). He is an academic and author who has waited for classified documents to declassified so he could research the mystery. With his wife Erin (Cassidy Freeman) friend and psychiatrist Walter Myrick (Alex Draper) a team is formed to find the trail the residents of Friar took. There group includes two cartographers, Melissa (Anessa Ramsey) and Teddy Barnes (Michael Laurino), an intern Jill (Tara Giordano), equipment guy Cy (Sam Elmore) and local who works her way into the group Liv McCann (Laura Heisler). This group finds the now available secret coordinates of the trail head are not so accurate. As they stand in front of the Friar N.H. movie theater The Rialto (In real life in Lancaster N.H.) they wonder how it could be that the information is so wrong. Lucky for them Liv is working that day and says she can show them where the YellowBrickRoad is. In her best (ugh.) Yankee accent she says she can lead the way. So our group sets out to answer the question of what happened 70 years earlier. It is not easy to make a "walking in the woods" movie exciting but the new film makers Jesse Holland and Andy Mitton do a fairly good job. Using the device of Walter doing psychological tests they create a way not only of breaking up the monotony of people hiking but also a way to show the breakdown of characters mental states as the film progresses. They introduce the idea that equipment such compasses do not work so well on this trail. It is a nice way to create a sense of dread since we as the audience know that things are not going to go well. It also creates a real need for our brother and sister cartographers who become to be the only link back out of the woods. So when an antique hat is found by Teddy and his sister is creeped out by it, their conflicts around it really create a group tension as everyone wants them paying attention and doing their jobs well, not fighting over a hat. The second thing and really effective movie making technique is the use of sound in the film. Early on out on the trail a weird soft 1940s music starts playing in the air. Everyone notices it and soon it is can not be ignored. As the film progresses the music gets louder until it is a queue for the audience as well as a irritant for the characters. As the mental states of the characters fray the music signals and creates stress. It is a nicely done piece of film making. The slower development of the plot is a throw back to times past maybe the 1970s. If only there were animals in it attacking them and we would have Day of the Animals, with music as the cause instead of the lack of ozone. Sorry really didn't mean to belittle this film with a DOTA reference. This film is genuinely scary at times and fairly effective in building tension even though it is just a group walking in the woods. In interviews the writers said they were creating a story with the "music as a ghost, and what that might do to the psyche". They I think were successful in that. Strange coincidence that the actress Anessa Ramsey was also in The Signal, another film that uses sound in unique ways. The last third of the movie is a wild ride with shocking and frightening outcomes. Unfortunately the buildup fails to do the most important thing in storytelling, which is to give answers to the question the movie posed. In this case the movie is supposed to be answering the question of what happened to the people of Friar and why? Sure you can watch the story of our current characters and feel the question of "what" is answered; We see what happens to them. There are still holes though, if you take this answer. If the music is a ghost and the cause of the breakdown of mental well being, then it could not be the determining factor in the original tragedy. Did they hear music from 1900? Was the original event the cause of this film's craziness? Then that does not answer the question of the first event. There is a need in storytelling to at least connect the points of a story, well maybe not if you are David Lynch but most people have to at least answer the questions asked by the film. This film fails to do this. We never find out why the people of Friar N.H. went off into the woods. We don't know why some were murdered. We could guess that the woods were always haunted and causes crazy behavior but really? It does not really hold up. Although in the current group's experience we can know for a certainty what happened to them, but why is still a bit foggy. Then there is the final scene which may be an ode to some other film but, can't really say it made much sense. So overall it is a "still recommended" for this film, the mood and the filmmaking was good enough to hold attention. If a bit more time was spent getting the script to complete the story arch of the 1940 residents of Friar and the film would have been complete. The warning must be made though, if you are a person who yawns at slow building stories this may be a problem for you. ... Rating (5.2) 5.0 and up are recommended, In the Zombiegrrlz system, Go see it and support independent horror!

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