Served up in a very David Lynch-like style, YellowBrickRoad defies all expectations and manages to deliver a strange and trippy cinematic experience that calls to mind everything from The Shining to Mulholland Drive.
Legitimate critics and bloggers, much more talented than I, have reviewed this film, seek these out and read them for yourself - (I suggest you start here). I am not giving this one much a of a review as I am pondering its meaning. I may also drop a spoiler here and there. You've been warned.
***I saw YellowBrickRoad last weekend, and it has stayed with me, haunted me, and intrigued me.
What starts as a story about a group of investigators and an author trying to get to the bottom of a mysterious mass vanishing of the residents of a small town in New Hampshire seventy years earlier, slowly evolves into a transcendental journey that leads the lone survivor back to the start of his journey where he discovers that hell may actually be the middle row of a cinema (or maybe it's up on the screen). YellowBrickRoad begins and ends at a movie theater, and, yes, the specter of 1939's The Wizard of Oz is somehow the catalyst for the events both past and present. Early on in the film we discover that just before everyone wandered off into the woods, they'd been watching The Wizard of Oz at the local movie house, and the remaining copy of the film was played so much, it is worn out.
Haunted woods figure also. The pathway that our intrepid heroes follow through the forest are filled with the eerie, ambient sounds of 30's and 40's era music - which at first is almost kind of beautiful, but eventually the sound gets so discordant and loud it drives some to murder and madness. Obviously, we never really find out where the music is coming from, but it's there like some sort of Dolby-surround-sound torture chamber.
Finally, when the film's protagonist and sole survivor makes it to the journey's end and finds himself back at the movie theater - what do we make of this? Has he gone full circle, or is it indicative of what's really going on here? Much like the townspeople of 70 years earlier, has Teddy (Michael Laurino) found himself in some sort of time loop? Is the story merely repeating itself with some new players - or is what the woman on the screen saying true, "This is where we live now..." Is Teddy in the same sort of twisted, cinematic dreamland that Diane/Betty (Naomi Watts) found herself in Mulholland Drive?
See you at the movies, gang!