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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Charles Everett Tacker
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
In 1940, almost the entire population of a town in New Hampshire mysteriously leave their homes, their belongings and even their pets, and head north along a trail into the dense wilderness. The corpses of those discovered are the only trace of what might have happened to the people of Friar. Many years later, Teddy Barnes and a team of researchers, pathfinders, historians and psychologists decide to follow the same trail and uncover the mystery of what happened in 1940. But what waits for them at the end of the trail - and will they survive to reach it?
I know what you're thinking. This is a movie about a group of people who, whilst following a mysterious trail through the wilderness in search of answers, begin to perish. It therefore must involve masked killers or mutated bears, right? Actually, no. "YellowBrickRoad" takes its inspiration from some of the classic older horror movies such as "The Shining", "Deliverance" and the original version of "The Wicker Man" and, instead of aiming purely for the eyes of the audience, it also aims for the mind. This is a slow-burning psychological horror filled with sights and sounds which get under your skin and worm their way into your brain; just as they do with the characters themselves.
That's not to say that there isn't gore or violence in "YellowBrickRoad". There are several scenes involving terrible, bloody things happening to people, but the film-makers shoot those scenes in a way that forces the audience to let their imaginations run rampant and fill in the gaps. It's not really these death scenes that will stick with you after the movie has ended, though. It's the way that "YellowBrickRoad" forces you to watch as the seemingly well-adjusted individuals to whom you're introduced at the beginning rapidly drift into insanity, rage, loneliness, brutality and utter confusion as the rules of reality change around them.
For a good portion of its running time, "YellowBrickRoad" is a creepy and unsettling story that fully preys upon our fear of the unknown. Without resorting to cheap scares, the movie accurately portrays how a group of people might act if they took too many steps northward and suddenly found themselves in the Twilight Zone. All of the main actors do a fine job and, despite working with an obviously limited budget, the directors utilise sound, along with moody, lonesome cinematography and the rustic setting to create a tense and spooky atmosphere.
Some may have a problem with the ending which perhaps veers a bit too closely into David Lynch territory, but I found it to be an interesting and apt way of closing the movie. For those who are fans of horror cinema, such as "Session 9" or "The Shining", in which the protagonists are confronted with something unknown and terrible that slowly burns away at their sanity and willpower, this may be close to essential viewing for you.
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