1940: the entire population of Friar, New Hampshire walked up a winding mountain trail, leaving everything behind. 2008: the first official expedition into the wilderness attempts to solve the mystery of the lost citizens of Friar.
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One Morning in New England, 1940, the entire population of Friar New Hampshire - 572 people - walked together up a winding mountain trail and into the wilderness. They left behind their clothes, their money, all of their essentials. Even their dogs were abandoned, tied to posts and left to starve. No One knows why. A search party dispatched by the U.S. Army eventually discovered the remains of nearly 300 of Friar's evacuees. Many had frozen to death. Others were cruelly and mysteriously slaughtered. The bodies of the remaining citizens are still unaccounted for. Over the years, a quiet cover-up operation managed to weave the story of Friar into the stuff of legends and backwoods fairy tales. The town has slowly repopulated, but the vast wilderness is mostly untracked, with the northern-most stretches off limits to local hunters and loggers. In 2008, the coordinates for the "YELLOWBRICKROAD" trail head were declassified. The first official expedition into a dark and twisted wilderness ... Written by
Andy Mitton and Jesse Holland
They go down a path... in search of a new ending for their film...
I really, really wanted to enjoy this one. Really. It had such an intriguing story and kick-ass trailer. It reminded me of a modern day Blair Witch project without all the shaky-cam. A town with a spooky ghost trail and would-be adventure seekers writing a book heading down a path that you just know will lead to their impending doom? Count me in! Teddy Barnes (Laurino) and his wife, Melissa (Ramsey) are writing a book about the mystery that happened in Friar, New Hampshire in 1940 and have assembled a crew to go with them. We have Daryl Luger (Clark Freeman) and his sister, Erin (Cassidy Freeman), who work on numbers and maps, an intern named Jill (Giordano) and a doctor named Walter (Draper). When they go to the start of the trail, it leads to an old movie theater. Inside is an usher (Wilkof) and the concessions lady, Liv (Heisler). The usher wants no part of what they're doing, in fact, the whole town wants nothing to do with them. Teddy sees that Liv may hold some answers and she'll help Teddy find the trail as long as she gets to come along as well. Seeing as Teddy has no choice, he reluctantly agrees and the seven head out along the infamous trail. As is with most movies of this genre, it starts out pretty slow and only gives us glimpses and quick instances where we realize that something's not quite right before the true story starts to unfold. I particularly enjoyed when the GPS started showing them that they were in places like Guam and Florence, Italy and when everyone at the same time heard some peculiar music that seemingly played out of nowhere. The movie just kept making us ask more and more questions as it progressed. But, it's not until one of the crew members does something completely shocking that makes us sit up and pay more attention...
There's nothing wrong with the actors or production values on this one. I've heard some people complain that it's low budget and cheesy and they're completely wrong on that fact. Nothing about the film screams low budget or independent film. The cast and crew did a very good job with making this look and feel like a movie that would play down at your local movie theater. It had a budget of $500,000 dollars and you don't even need that much to make a good film.
No, the main problem with this movie lies within the script, I'm afraid. After a tremendous build-up of getting us there and shrouding the entire movie in mystery, we expect some answers. We want to know where the music comes from. We want to know why the GPS is gone all frickity-frak. We want to know why some of the characters are behaving the way they do. We want to know why everyone has an obsession with candy for some strange reason. We want to know what happened in 1940 to make the entire town want to walk this path. Well, keep wanting...
YellowBrickRoad is a classic example of a good set-up and engaging story line but never quite pays off. When I watch a movie, it's nice to have a beginning, middle and end. There are some occasions where not having a pre-determined destination for your film pays off (Memento) -- but this one just begged to have an ending and some sort of explanation. As it stands though, it'll just leave you scratching your head and having you making up your own ending -- and it'll most likely be better than what they showed us.
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Final Grade: C-
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