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on August 18, 2011
I agree with many of the other reviewers in that if you just want a slasher film with an easy story than this is not the one for you. If you want a movie that has an interesting backstory, a strong cast and a creepy, unsettling storyline, than you will enjoy this film. I love movies with this kind of backstory whether a history of a haunted house or a haunted road and they showed that quite well with the documentary style beginning. Bringing the characters together and letting us get to know them as they started out was well done. Slow but I think that made the movie all the better. And then the descent into madness/hell/?? This is a film that will remain with you after it is over. Not so much to discuss but to feel. I agree that I felt the ending was a bit of a cheat and still not quite sure what it was showing but I still enjoyed the movie and feel the need to watch it again to catch things I probably missed the first time.
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on June 19, 2011
The movie starts out as a black and white documentary about an incident in 1940 where a village/town of people all take off walking down a trail. Only one person survived and he was a bit crazy. Bodies were found along the trail, many more missing.

Years later Teddy Barnes, teacher and writer (Michael Laurino) manages to obtain the records and decides to investigate in order to publish a book. The team goes to the co-ordinates of the trail head only to find a movie theater. Teddy decides to go into the theater and talk to the counter girl/projectionist who tells him a bizarre tale of how the original Oz movie was playing at the time of the incident. She (Laura Heisler) is over eager to help them go down the Yellow Brick Road, a sign that marks the trial.

She takes them to the trail. There is a psychologist(Alex Draper) on the trip who is constantly filming individuals and asking them questions as a sanity check. This gives the movie the annoying feel of those reality type movies. Also in the team is his wife Melissa (Anessa Ramsey) and Daryl and Erin Luger (Clark Freeman and Cassidy Freeman). Cy (Sam Elmore) and Jill (Tara Giordano) round out the team as they head on down the trail laced with belladonna. The movie develops slowly as small things happen. Daryl finds a hat that is from the era, but seems new. Jill's GPS goes haywire, one minute they are in Guam, the next Italy. They joke about it.

They hike for five days in Northern NH (is that possible?) and they come to a field (poppies?) and they hear music. Their instruments are not working properly and they know something is at work, but what? They speculate: Solar flares? Earth magnetism? Government experiment? The music becomes addicting. Emotions flare...

Good acting. Nice New England accent by Laura Heisler. I enjoy horror/mystery/thrillers and this one was exceptionally good, even though the ending didn't offer an explanation as to the events.

F-bomb, sex, no nudity.
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on December 20, 2012
If you're looking for something action packed, flashy, bloody, and mindlessly easy to follow like most horror movies, this one is not for you. You have to pay attention to understand what's going on, listen to what the characters say (it's VERY content driven) and be willing to keep an open mind. The answers are not given to you, and the film is more about the journey than the ending.
The first time I saw it...I couldn't sleep for days unless I watched Corner Gas or Mr. Bean before bed.
There are things that make this film so unsettling for a variety of reasons...
If you're up to try something new and a movie that breaks rules (in a good way), then give this movie a shot. You won't be sorry.
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on November 26, 2014
"Cap'n Bill and Trot decided to walk through the forest, to discover what was on the other side of it, but the Ork's feet were still so sore and "lumpy" from walking on the rocks that the creature said he preferred to fly over the tree-tops and meet them on the other side."
—from The Scarecrow of Oz, the ninth of L Fran Baum's Oz books.

okay. I have tried several times to do this *fantastic* movie justice in a review and I have failed each time. But like an intrepid band of modern-day explorers wandering northward into uncharted wilderness in search of an urban legend, I will keep on ploughing through the thorny underbrush until I get this right.

This is a wonderful puzzle box of a horror movie. It is an art movie that confuses people because everything about it is so brilliantly un-pretentious.

As a young man, fervent about writing great novels one day, I read many a text on how to write well, how to be a better writer, how to write. One book by an author, I think her name was Bly, concocted an unforgettable lesson by having her readers first visualize a sinister meeting of pirates on the high sea on a dark and stormy night. (A bit campy, yes? Fun, overblown, cliché, hackneyed, yes?) Now keep everything about the scene exactly the same, only change the weather to brilliant sunlight over a smooth turquoise sea, spread out and glistening in all directions. To me at least, the second scene is far more sinister.

In a sense, this movie is a joke. I noticed that the first time I saw this movie. "Noticed" is an understatement. I was laughing my ass off the whole damn movie long, and when I looked afterward at the Amazon reviews, as is my won't, I was shocked, SHOCKED to see that, alongside the many reviews bemoaning that the movie was just too weird or too hard to understand (I expected those. Like I said, this is an art movie, which is kind of a euphemism for "not for everybody", which is kind of a euphemism for "if you don't worship this film for its unique and poignant brilliance, you will despise it as a pretentious piece of crap",) all the other reviews seemed to paint it as something very grim and unsettling.

Well. As a gentleman critic beset with real life Aspergers, I am obliged in this sort of situation to yield to public consensus. I watched the movie again and again, each time with a set of fresh eyes, until I saw that yes, the actors play it so straight, and the stakes become so high, and the poetry, all the time evoking images from the Wizard of Oz in its Great Depression, of the allure and danger of escapism.

And yet there is something darkly comic about how this truly twisted horror movie (and every time I watch the scarecrow images, SPOILER WARNING, I do think to myself "you insane Asperger person, how could you NOT have thought this is one of the darkest films ever) is set so brightly against such a bucolic, unthreatening background as the north woods of New Hampshire, all rolling and gentle, never requiring our characters to climb or strain uphill much. And, as our heroes, a munchkin-like lollipop guild (and lollipops are a symbol in this movie, SPOILER WARNING as witness the sad sad suicide of Jill the Intern) of an intern, a ranger, a local informant, two siblings who are together ace at making maps, and three scholars who perhaps are meant to represent one a lion with no courage (the nebbish-y behavioral psychologist Walter Myrick, who dare not mention where his true affections lie) a scarecrow with no brain (for Melissa Barnes, though clearly a brilliant scholar and strong willed fighter, is determined to follow her husband on whatever mad path he dares follow) and a tin woodsman with no heart, no compassion for those who have followed into this fatal wilderness, this dark, thorny poem of demon metaphors which systematically drive all his companions down into an individual hell, and oblivious to the horrors, Teddy Barnes plods forward.

And Dorothy? Maybe hard-bitten Liv McCann. But focus to much on the admittedly brilliant way that this movie turns the world on its head by making a horror movie out of Wizard of Oz, making the charming, carefree ditties of the American 1930s into a haunting and menacing banshee moan—reflect too much on all that highfalutin stuff, wonderful as it is, and you miss some of the simple pleasures of this movie. Namely, the fact that this seems to have been one of those rare and wonderful productions where the director was able to say to the actors, "Why don't your forget about acting and just have a good time." The camping scenes are so full of tiny little wonderful bits of observational humor about the silly fun that making camping trips worth going on, from having impromptu campfire-building contests, sharing a bag of candy, and joking around at an apparently broken GPS that one minute tells our intrepid campers that they are wandering somewhere in Guam, the next minute that they are outside Florence and next well on their way to Melbourne. Each time poor Jill the Intern is called on to read off the latest ridiculous location, all the rest of the campers cheer like "Hooray! Florence! Oy! Melbourne! Throw a shrimp on the barbie, mates!" It's a joy and if you miss that joy you are missing the point of this movie.

But if you let yourself get lulled too deeply into the joy, you'll miss the truth of the metaphor: they HAVE wandered off the map, our intrepid explorers, wandered into a place which is nowhere and everywhere, simultaneously Guam, Melbourne, Florence, the woods north of Friar, NH and the wilderness of the land of Oz itself whose dreamlike brutality (apple trees flinging apples with murderous disregard for suffering, monkey demons with bat wings charging down from the sky, and the unforgettable sight of a green-skinned demon witch bemoaning her fate as she literally melts into oblivion) is indicated by those mighty emerald walls so few are ever allowed to cross.

This is one of those smart movies, the kind that lead me yet again to recall and paraphrase that favorite Zen rubric, "This film is a mirror. If a monkey looks in, no visionary will look out." Dismiss this movie as merely "weird" "boring" or "meaningless" at your own peril. It is, at turns, all of those things. But so is life, and life is worth dying for.
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on August 6, 2011
It may not be for everyone but this is a great, slow burn of an indie horror flick. As it slowly peels back the layers of madness you will either end up frustrated and confused or you will appreciate the ride it's taking you on. The scariest things in life aren't what we know, it's what we don't know.

I obviously fall into the camp that loved it. Great script, great cast, great direction and great aesthetics for a low budget movie.
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on March 2, 2012
Disclaimer: I viewed this film as a streaming rental and cannot comment on the audio or visual appearance of the disc. My review concerns the entertainment value of the film only.

According to the backstory of YELLOW BRICK ROAD, in 1940 the residents of an entire New England town decided one day to abandon their village - they walked up a wooded trail and most were never seen again, although a great portion of them were found slaughtered along the trail. Now, seventy years later, a small group of researchers are attempting to discover what happened and why the townsfolk left. They won't like what they find.

The thumbnail image for this DVD is misleading - it reminds me of The Hills Have Eyes or Wrong Turn - and suggests a supernatural slasher type film. There is no doubt there are some disturbing visuals here (or at least I found them to be) but that aspect of the film acts as an effective contribution to the atmosphere of creepy dread rather than as the primary focus. Thus those looking for splatter and gore may be disappointed.

What this film does do, not quite coherently but still effectively, is create a very unsettling feeling, one just sideways enough so that I never had a handle on what was coming next. It's a puzzling film - the character's motivations aren't always clear, and the resolution of the narrative leaves even more questions - but I have the feeling that none of that really matters. Instead, with its mixture of gruesome images, suggestiveness, and unpredictability, I thought it a rare horror film that actually accomplished being horrifying rather than terrifying.

Still, its difficult to know to whom to recommend it. If anything, it reminds me of The Blair Witch Project, without the shaky hand-cam and a less linear narrative. 24 hours later, and I'm still a little creeped out by it.
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on September 11, 2015
This is a very creepy, unsettling film. There's no gore to speak of but there is plenty of violence. I know that one of the reviewers keeps saying that this is a "comedy", but I strongly disagree with that description. I could find nothing funny about this film at all. It is very dark and disturbing and leaves one with an unsettling and strange feeling, almost bordering on fear.
The movie takes place in New Hampshire where in 1940, the people of the town took a walk on a trail and never made it back. There was only one survivor and he was too "unwound" to really tell others what had happened to all of the people. Dead bodies were later discovered on the trail. This is all learned within the first 10-15 minutes of the movie, so it's not going to spoil anything for anyone. Now, in the present, a writer finally gets a chance to tell the story of what exactly happened when he decides to walk the trail, himself, with some other people (about 25) from the town.
The following story is what makes up the film and it raises more questions than answers, in my opinion. The story gets more disturbing as it goes on and I don't want to give anything away, but if you enjoy very creepy, disturbing psychological drama/thrillers, then I think you will enjoy this film. If you just want a good horror movie with lots of gore, this is NOT for you, in any way.
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on April 30, 2016
I remember some years ago when this movie came out that the trailer made me want to see it. I don't know why I missed it then, but I rented it from Amazon.com two days ago. I was impressed with the movie over-all. Strange people on a strange mission. Years ago in the movie, all of a small town followed a trail north. People said they could hear the music from the "Wizard of Oz" sound track and were following the yellow brick road's music to where it went. It didn't work out well for the disappeared folks from the town, or for the explorers following in their footsteps. As a null spot movie viewer, you and I get to hear the muffled Wizard of Oz music and it is disquieting to say the least. I think the producers use that ultra low frequency vibration that makes we humans un-easy because I was that. Like the Wizard of Oz, this movie tries to have a few metaphors, but they fail short of anything important as our desire to find the phonograph and turn it off gets rudely interrupted by madness and murder.
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on June 28, 2012
Contains midpoint SPOILERS.

The movie starts out as a black and white documentary about an incident in 1940 where a village/town of people all take off walking down a trail. Only one person survived and he was a bit crazy. Bodies were found along the trail, many more missing.

Years later Teddy Barnes, teacher and writer (Michael Laurino) manages to obtain the records and decides to investigate in order to publish a book. The team goes to the co-ordinates of the trail head only to find a movie theater. Teddy decides to go into the theater and talk to the counter girl/projectionist who tells him a bizarre tale of how the original Oz movie was playing at the time of the incident. She (Laura Heisler) is over eager to help them go down the Yellow Brick Road, a sign that marks the trial.

She takes them to the trail. There is a psychologist(Alex Draper) on the trip who is constantly filming individuals and asking them questions as a sanity check. This gives the movie the annoying feel of those reality type movies. Also in the team is his wife Melissa (Anessa Ramsey) and Daryl and Erin Luger (Clark Freeman and Cassidy Freeman). Cy (Sam Elmore) and Jill (Tara Giordano) round out the team as they head on down the trail laced with belladonna. The movie develops slowly as small things happen. Daryl finds a hat that is from the era, but seems new. Jill's GPS goes haywire, one minute they are in Guam, the next Italy. They joke about it.

They hike for five days in Northern NH (is that possible?) Their instruments are not working properly and they know something is at work, but what? They speculate: Solar flares? Earth magnetism? Government experiment? Emotions flare...

Good acting. Nice New England accent by Laura Heisler. I enjoy horror/mystery/thrillers and this one was exceptionally good, even though the ending didn't offer any closure.

Parental Guide: F-bomb, sex, no nudity.
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on August 11, 2011
Remember when you'd visit your grandparents and they'd play their favorite old tunes over and over and over and over again? Did it make you so crazy that you told your sister/brother that you were going to kill them? No? Then this film isn't for you....

Did I enjoy the film's premise, yes! It was well executed, the acting was solid and once you go beyond the "ghost hunters" concept and move into the why they are making this trip in the first place - it was good. Was I freaked out by some of the more suspenseful moments? Yes, absolutely. I kept looking over my shoulder and turning on lights while I was watching this. That part was fantastic and I felt the film delivered in giving me the heebie-geebies. The scene at the cave really caught me off guard.

Was the ending a complete and total let down - HECK YEAH! The premise held promise, the actors had me in full freakout mode and then? Well, I won't tell everything, but let's say that even the Cowardly Lion would have said, What the what? That's not scary at all....

So would I recommend it? No, I am sorry to say that I cannot...If anyone is open to getting a slight thrill for 80% of a film - go for it. For everyone else, see something else.
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