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Slamdance 2010 Review: YELLOWBRICKROAD - A Great Little Horror Film Gem

Directed By: Jesse Holland and Andy Mitton

Starring: Cassidy Freeman(Smallville), Clark Freeman, Anessa Ramsey (The Signal), Lee Wilkof, Laura Heisler and Alex Draper. 

Synopsis:

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 will attempt to solve the mystery of the lost citizens of Friar...and reach the end of the trail.

Review:

Sounds like an interestingly great premise for a film doesn’t it!? Well, it is. And for a low budget indie horror film, it’s executed exceptionally well. It was this story line and the trailer for the film that hooked me in wanting to see this movie, and I’m so glad I took the time while I was in Park City to go and check out this fantastic little horror gem, because I really freakin’ enjoyed watching this film!

The film grabbed from the very beginning and didn’t let go until it was over. Here we have eight people who are out searching for the truth of of what happened to all of these town folk all those years ago. As they walk the YellowBrickRoad we witness their decent into madness. One of the very cool aspects of the film is they come to a point in the road where they begin to hear this old 1930’s music that is just playing in air. This music does something to them, screws with their heads, disorienting their minds. I’ve gotta say this sound that is portrayed in the film is very effective. Even the audience feels the full effect of this music and we get a very good sense of what these characters are going through and hearing. When the characters in the film are plugging their years trying to muffle the sound, so is the audience. I don’t know if people found that annoying or not, but I thought it was an effective tool of filmmaking and getting the audience involved.

The movie has a great 1970’s horror film feel to it. There’s no big special effects or anything like that, this movie relies on messing with the audience's heads and making them think. The directors of the movie even said, the the great films of the 70’s were the inspiration for the film, movies like The Shining, Carrie, The Exorcist, and Deliverance. There was most definitely a great Stephen King style vibe to it that I really liked.

The films directors, Jesse Holland and Andy Mitton, have a background in directing theater play. This is a great start for any director, especially in working with actors and one of the main strong points this film has, is the strong performances by all of the actors. Most of which came from the stage. The acting was fantastic, natural and believable across the board. There are a lot of horror movies out there that I’ve seen where the acting is so bad it kills the movie for me, even the big budget horror films being made these days. But here we have a very talented ensemble cast that did a fantastic job bringing their characters to life. 

I’m looking forward to watching this movie again. I just loved the fact that the film relied more on story and messing with the heads of the audience than it did on special effects and in your face cheap scares. YellowBrickRoad is a slow burn of suspense, and I hope you eventually get the chance to check it out soon!

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