YellowBrickRoad is one odd film, that’s for sure, but I’m not entirely convinced that it worked. There were a few moments of genuine tension and a whole load of moments where I was completely baffled. It tells the story of a group of people who are investigating an urban legend from the 1940’s where a whole town full of people mysteriously disappeared. They follow the trail of these missing people in the hopes of finding out what really happened – and even after watching the film in its entirety, I couldn’t tell you the answer!
I think where this film went wrong is that I felt that it was just being ‘weird’ purely for the sake of being weird and that there wasn’t really a justification for a lot of what we saw. I know that people will come back with ‘but that’s the whole point of the film’, however, there must still be some sort of coherent plot and general consistencies in order to be successful. Being weird and random doesn’t take any skill to produce and certainly isn’t scary. Even I could string together abstract footage of nonsensical things happening and call it ‘artistic’. A smattering of weirdness is always welcome, but I feel that YellowBrickRoad took it a step too far. Hell, they took it a dozen steps too far, because sometimes it bordered on being plain annoying.
Comparisons have been drawn between YellowBrickRoad and The Blair Witch Project – being that they were both small, low budget films about people getting lost in the woods. That being said, the idea for this film was a good one though, and perhaps with a little more structure and a solid ending, it would have turned out to be a very entertaining, gripping watch. For me, this is the most frustrating part of all – that it actually had potential but was ruined with too many ‘messy’ bits. I liked the fact that it really isn’t a horror film in the conventional sense because there are no demons or ghosts or monsters, but the horror simply exists in the character’s own minds. The psychological aspect of films like these is always a fascinating one to explore and there were times when the character’s ‘descent into madness’ worked really well.
The directors (Jesse Holland and Andy Mitton) have tried really hard to mess with the viewers senses with their use of sound and visuals, some which is effective and some which is not so much. But, considering that it is their directorial debut, I suppose it is a pretty decent effort (with maybe too much influence from the notorious David Lynch). Although, a lot of people have actually responded very positively to this movie and accuse those who don’t rate it of ‘not getting it’ and calling them ‘lazy, brainless viewers who need everything spelling out for them’. But I personally feel that this is because they read deep meanings and insights into this film which simply do not exist, correct me if I’m wrong, by any means though. Besides, there isn’t even anything to get, thanks to the slap-dash ending chucked on as an afterthought.
The ending…oh, the ending. What can I say here? In a way, it perfectly fit the rest of the film as it was entirely bizarre and wacky-woo. I thought it was a bit of a copout ending, to be honest, as I had hoped that I would at least have been given some answers to all the madness. But no, apparently not. So, maybe I am one of those brainless idiots after all then!
A good effort was made here, and the film wasn’t completely horrible. It was just weird. Too weird. Justifying it by calling it ‘artsy’ doesn’t help the situation either. There was some great suspense at times, but unfortunately, for me, the ending kind of ruined it. Perhaps I’ll give it another watch though, to see if I neglected some secret hidden depth that I missed earlier, but I won’t hold my breath.