|Produced by||Eric Hungerford|
|Music by||Jonathan McHugh|
YellowBrickRoad is a 2010 American horror film by Jesse Holland and Andy Mitton that stars Cassidy Freeman, Anessa Ramsey and Laura Heisler. It is about an expedition to discover the fate of an entire town that disappeared into the wilderness 70 years earlier. Although critical reception was mixed, it won best film at the New York City Horror Film Festival.
The film was released as part of the Bloody Disgusting Selects line.
In 1940 the entire town of Friar, 572 people, abandoned their town and walked into the wilderness with only the clothes on their backs after a viewing of The Wizard of Oz, a film that the entire town was obsessed with. No one has ever been able to explain why they did this. Only 300 of the townspeople's bodies were recovered: some had frozen to death in the elements, while others were killed in horrific and bloody ways. The remaining 272 citizens were never found, and the government designated the trail that the townspeople took as classified. Despite this, the town was eventually repopulated, although the townspeople are cautious of the town's history.
In the present day, the trail's coordinates have been declassified, and a film crew has arrived to travel the trail to learn about the disappearances and deaths, as well as what lies at the end of the trail. Crew leader Teddy found the trail's coordinates via Friar's cinema. The crew befriends Liv, a townsperson who works at the local cinema, and she agrees to accompany them on their trip.
The journey goes well initially, but soon the crew is terrorized by loud and jarring music that appears to come out of nowhere. Then crew member Daryl brutally murders his sister Erin and flees in the only vehicle, which also contains their food supply.
Desperate, the crew begins to argue and turn on one another. Several of the group's members kill themselves, either out of despair caused by abandonment or because they have been driven mad by the music and associated events. Daryl returns and murders Teddy's wife Melissa, before being killed himself by Liv. A weary and visibly shaken Teddy crawls to the final portion of the trail, where the music finally stops. He finds himself at what appears to be the cinema from the beginning of the film. There, he meets a sinister Usher, who forces him to sit in a theater empty except for a brief glimpse of smiling theatergoers implied to be the spirits of the dead townspeople. On the screen is footage of his wife, who has been transported by the Usher into a hellish landscape. Horrified, Teddy begins to scream but is cut off.
- Cassidy Freeman as Erin Luger
- Anessa Ramsey as Melissa Barnes
- Laura Heisler as Liv McCann
- Clark Freeman as Daryl Luger
- Lee Wilkof as Clerk / Usher
- Alex Draper as Walter Myrick
- Tara Giordano as Jill
- Michael Laurino as Teddy Barnes
- Sam Elmore as Cy Banbridge
Bernice M. Murphy finds similarities between this film and The Blair Witch Project (1999). On both films the horror lies in the "desperate fear of losing oneself in the wilderness". In both films the characters stray from "civilization" and go in search of something intangible, something lurking within the forests of the United States. In both, the characters also stray away from their own rationality.
Murphy says that both films belong to a tradition of "Rural Gothic" horror fiction that can be traced back to Young Goodman Brown (1835) by Nathaniel Hawthorne. She says that American narratives of horror fiction and Gothic fiction often take place in the forests, the same forests confronted by the settlers and explorers of the Colonial history of the United States. She argues that "Rural Gothic" is an important subgenre of the wider American Gothic tradition.
Murphy further places the film within a type of "Rural Gothic" narratives, where bad things happen to those who willingly venture into the wilderness. Such stories tend to feature the loss of a civilized way of life. She cites as other examples Edgar Huntly (1799), Young Goodman Brown (1835), The Shining (1977) and its film adaptation (1980), and The Blair Witch Project (1999). She also cites the historical Donner Party (1846–1847) as fitting well with this trope.
Rotten Tomatoes, a review aggregator, reports that 44% of 16 surveyed critics gave the film a positive review; the average rating was 5 out of 10. In a negative review, G. Allen Johnson of San Francisco Chronicle wrote, "Yellowbrickroad is without personality. It's competently made, but the cast and direction are just bland." Horror review site Life After Undeath gave the film a largely negative review and stated that the ending "reeks of an overzealous attempt at providing a clever twist to something that may as well have remained unexplained." Meet in the Lobby offered more praise, calling it "a psychologically haunting film that leaves a rather disquieting feeling that is slow to fade even days after seeing the movie." Dennis Harvey of Variety called it "a well-crafted horror-mystery" that may frustrate audiences that look for explanations.
- Murphy, Bernice M. (2013), "Introduction:We're Not Out of the Woods Yet", The Rural Gothic in American Popular Culture: Backwoods Horror and Terror in the Wilderness, Palgrave Macmillan, ISBN 978-1137353726
- "Slamdance Premieres YellowBrickRoad". ShockTilYouDrop.com. December 9, 2009. Retrieved October 24, 2013.
- Murphy (2013), p. 1-4
- Murphy (2013), p. 11
- "YellowBrickRoad". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved October 4, 2011.
- Johnson, G. Allen (September 30, 2011). "YellowBrickRoad review". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved October 4, 2011.
- "YellowBrickRoad review". LifeAfterUndeath.com. Retrieved January 21, 2012.
- David, Scott (May 23, 2011). "YellowBrickRoad review". Meetinthelobby.com. Retrieved October 16, 2012.
- Harvey, Dennis (February 1, 2010). "Review: 'YellowBrickRoad'". Variety. Retrieved August 15, 2014.
- "Past Festivals: 2010". New York City Horror Film Festival. Retrieved October 24, 2013.