Monday, 7 May 2012

Film Review | YellowBrickRoad (2011)

I'm a staunch advocate of including only as much exposition as is necessary in films. Some of my favourite films, such as Mulholland Drive or Primer, in fact go out of their way to limit the exposition and make the finished product feel all the more expertly crafted. But there's a difference between allowing the audience to find their own way through your film, and simply making them feel like they haven't got the first clue what's going on. If only someone had taken the time to sit down and explain this to the makers of YellowBrickRoad.

The film explains through an opening title card that all the inhabitants of the town of Friar, New Hampshire one day in 1940 inexplicably abandoned the town and walked along an unmarked trail into a nearby woodland. Some were found frozen to death, others mutilated, but many were never found at all. In the present day, after finally securing the information he needs to complete an investigation into the strange occurrence, writer Teddy (Michael Laurino) leads a group along the same trail, where they begin to encounter their own weird experiences.

It's hard to find a genuine redeeming feature of YellowBrickRoad. The premise holds merit, with the mixture of history and legend giving the potential for something worthwhile. This potential soon evaporates, however, as it becomes painfully obvious that neither the cast nor the writers have a clue what they're doing. The performances are wooden and the script amateurish, scattered with weak and pretentious attempts at creepy dialogue. The characterisation is wafer thin to the point that even if I had cared who any of these people were, I'd be hard pressed to tell you their motivations or how they relate to each other.

What story we start with is abandoned around thirty minutes in, leaving an hour of flat, boring characters wandering around the woods. Supernatural elements and surreal sequences are introduced, but are never developed or explained in any meaningful way. By the time you've reached the closing scenes, you're left with so many unanswered questions that you'll feel cheated out of the last hour and a half of your life.

YellowBrickRoad is best summed up by looking at its title, a reference of course to 1939's The Wizard Of Oz. The nods to the earlier film in this one are scarce, sloppy and ultimately irrelevant throughout, which begs the question why the film is so titled in the first place. Everything about YellowBrickRoad makes about as much sense as the title. You'd probably have more fun beating yourself around the head with a brick, yellow or otherwise, than subjecting yourself to this garbage.


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