At the End of the Path: A Review of “YellowBrickRoad”

Seventy years ago, the entire population of a New Hampshire town left their homes and vanished into the woods. The bodies of nearly 300 of these missing people were later discovered, mutilated corpses which bore the signs of murder and exposure to the elements. The rest of the townsfolk were never recovered, lost to the eerie and still unexplored environs of New Hampshire. This much, YellowBrickRoad tells us in an opening montage filled with black and white pictures of the search teams and the abandoned town of Friar. Accompanying these shots, along with brief glimpses of those savaged bodies, is an audio recording of the sole survivor found walking through the forest, a man apparently still caught in whatever delirium gripped the rest of his fellow citizens. Images of that forest beckon to the viewer throughout this sequence, a wild, dark place so easily romanticized from a distance and still so full of secrets, even after ages of scientific inquiry and industrial development. YellowBrickRoad focuses on a group of young explorers who now, over half a century after this disappearance, manage to secure the coordinates of the spot from which the doomed inhabitants of Friar set out on their voyage into the dark. Confident, bursting with excitement and hubris, these researchers will seek out that same path with the intention of solving one of history’s mysteries, intending to deconstruct a modern legend with all the glossy-eyed exuberance and irreverence of the MythBusters crew. If there is, however, to be a successful act of deconstruction, it will not be the heart of the forest which will be plucked out…

Teddy Barnes has been obsessed with the case of Friar for quite some time, but has been stymied in his attempts to discover the location of the trailhead. Now, though, we find him in a dusty lobby where an over-solicitous and apologetic clerk hands him the coordinates for which he has been searching. We are then introduced to Teddy’s wife, Melissa, as well as the couple’s close friend, a therapist named Walter. These three assemble a team and the film moves to Friar. At the very outset of their expedition, unfortunately, Teddy and his friends hit what seems to be a major obstacle: the coordinates they’ve been given match the town’s movie theater. Frustrated by this absurdity (what path begins in a cinema?) and increasingly put-off by the hostility of Friar’s citizens, the team is almost ready to abort their mission and go home. Teddy, desperate over this collapse of his dream, is then drawn into the confidence of one of the theater’s ushers. The townspeople did make their departure from this theater, she says, though they entered the forest at another spot. She paints a quick picture of that generation, a populace ground down by difficulties, struggling with the Great Depression as well as a looming war overseas. Their abandonment of the town, she suggests, may have had less to do with what they were walking towards and more to do with the grey, sad existence they were leaving behind. She claims her grandfather visited Friar often prior to the strange exodus of its citizens and that he has shown her the real trailhead. Following her lead, the team finds their way into the forest.

What follows is a disturbing plunge into madness and inexplicable events, as these explorers fall prey to the forces of the forest as well as the unexplored chasms within themselves. This is “character-centered” horror, wherein psychological instabilities prove to be equally as dangerous as supernatural entities. The latter force is certainly real in the film, but it serves as a prompt more than a centerpiece, a horrific MacGuffin, to borrow Alfred Hitchcock’s terminology. This strategy has been used successfully in horror film before YellowBrickRoad and it serves as a fine addition to the sub-genre. The Haunting (1963), for instance, presents a riddle which is never actually solved, creating more questions than answers. Session 9 would prove to be a better companion piece for YellowBrickRoad than The Blair Witch Project, to which it has often been compared. Blair Witch announces the metaphysical nature of its central monster at the outset and moves on to deliver it as promised, building its tensions through relatively simple emotional displays and ominous teasing.[1] In this sense, it works like an amusement park ride, all adrenaline and atmosphere. YellowBrickRoad, on the other hand, like the woods through which it makes its way, refuses to relinquish its secrets at the end of the path… I believe a word of warning concerning its enigmatic quality will enhance first-time viewer’s experience and not “ruin” the film. Moreover, this aspect of the film is thoroughly tied to one of its major themes: the search for understanding, the yearning for definitive explanation, and the pitfalls into which these desires often lead us.

Teddy’s team comes to the forest equipped with the best navigational technology their research money can buy. These are young people who have grown up surrounded by GPS and cell phones, and their attitude toward their journey reflects an assumption of easy mastery of the elements. Walter the therapist brings a camcorder so he can keep track of their emotional states and he periodically submits the team members to amusing little tests designed to ferret out any pesky psychological disturbances. One by one, however, these tools prove inadequate for dealing with the forest path. Almost immediately, the navigational devices go haywire, insisting the team has somehow wandered thousands of miles off course. All their measurements are swiftly rendered nonsensical, suggesting they have strayed into a realm wherein space moves like liquid and nothing is fixed. When some try to turn back, they will discover there may be no way off the path. Similarly, Walter’s confident psychological testing proves useless in the face of the emotional disintegration which takes hold of every member of the team. One person seems to be losing all memories of a life before the path, while another goes inexplicably, and horrifically, mad. In fact, the last use to which Walter’s camera is put is a denial of its power as a cold eye of objectivity. Every step of the way the team is shown that their exuberant rational inquiry is doomed to fail. Some mysteries are determined to remain opaque, and only serve as walls against which people can destroy themselves.

Whatever the meaning of the final scene of YellowBrickRoad (and there certainly does seem to be a message there), this last point is an important one. When this movie refuses to explain itself, it does so for reasons which are perfectly consistent with its theme. Had it ended with a tidy explanation, or even a slightly more detailed one, it would have been betraying itself on a fundamental level. Teddy at one point argues that they cannot turn back because they are now implicated in the mystery of Friar’s woods. “These questions,” he insists, “will kill us.” The movie suggests that this statement can be taken in at least two ways: as he means it, a lack of solutions may prove deadly, a horrific itch in the brain left there by what they have undergone which could metastasize into madness. Unfortunately, though, the very asking of these questions may be what will destroy them. From the flippant and calculative attitudes the team brings to their exploration, we may believe it is the manner in which those questions are asked that is the problem. Aside from the obsessive nature of Teddy’s interest, though, we are not shown another style in which the path could have been travelled. In the end, this threatens to make the message of YellowBrickRoad a nihilistic one, but it is not the job of every work of horror to suggest a way out of the danger. Sometimes merely pointing out where it lies is difficult enough. Here, the danger seems wrapped up in questions of escapism and salvation, and that is where The Wizard of Oz may be playing a central role in this more disturbing film.

The people of Friar were particularly entranced by The Wizard of Oz and watched their copy until it was in tatters. It was after one such viewing that nearly 600 people left the town and headed into the forest. While the team members do not waste much time on film analysis, they do speculate that these desperate people may have been seeking an Emerald City of their own, following the siren call of prosperity and happiness. They even joke about a god being at the end of this path, some wish-fulfilling, meaning-dispensing wizard. Perhaps this would explain why the people of Friar wore their best clothing on their trek. The Wizard of Oz was released towards the end of the Depression, just as the Nazis began the hostilities of World War II and Americans were faced with the dilemma of joining the conflict or watching fascism eat Europe. This is the world people sought to leave behind on the Yellow Brick Road. Oz promises a strange sort of homecoming, in that moving away from her place of departure actually brings Dorothy closer to a return to her world. It also presents an easily destroyed enemy, capable of being melted away with a bit of water. Presiding over the shining Emerald City is the Wizard himself, who proves to be a largely benevolent, even silly figure. Compared with the dismal and disappointing reality of Friar, of course this looked attractive. As a piece of pop culture, Oz offered healing, tolerance and progress. While the world (America in particular) was to see a great deal of improvement and growth in the post-War climate, the road it was travelling in 1940 was blood-soaked, not golden, and it led not to an Emerald City but to Auschwitz and Hiroshima. Whatever other answers they may have received in those woods, the citizens of Friar discovered the dark heart which lurks even within escapist fantasies.

The world revealed by the birth of the atomic bomb seems particularly relevant to YellowBrickRoad. With that weapon came some of the first intuitions that human beings could significantly impact the Earth’s environment. This sense was strengthened in the following decades as the effects of pollution began to be recognized. Teddy’s team is not an especially destructive one, but their technologically dependant encounter with the wild may shed some light on the largely inscrutable climax of the film. Without going into details, the ending seems to point toward the worst of our post-industrial nightmares. As we are reminded, “This is our home,” and it will carry every scar we inflict upon it long after we have learned our lesson (one way or another). This interpretation is backed up by just a few slivers of dialogue, I must confess, but they are enough to suggest YellowBrickRoad may be meant as a warning. In our endless search for answers and the mastery of the mysterious world with which we are surrounded, we may be in the process of irreversibly poisoning it. Most films centered on travel touch at least peripherally on the adage “The journey is the destination,” but now we find that by following certain paths, we find the journey shapes the destination. Our obsessions not only form our characters, they may even distort whatever goals we eventually reach. Whether these distortions come in the shape of blighted landscapes or corrupted souls, surrealistic nightmares or acts of hideous betrayal against loved ones (and this movie is filled with all of the above), they should give us pause in the questions we seek to answer and the manner in which we do so.

YellowBrickRoad is a film which asks viewers to participate with it, in that it demands an interpretive stance in ways other pieces do not. Not only is the final nature of that toward which the town of Friar and Teddy’s team left undefined, but viewers are left to judge the actions of those who walked the path. Every soul on this trip will respond to the call of the path in ways particular to them: nihilistic abandonment to violence, greedy groping for sensory pleasures (never has candy seemed as important as in this world), passive despair or an unrelenting (and unforgivable) determination to see things through to the end. Whether their responses are implanted by an alien power or culled from everyday human weakness is also up to the viewer to decide, and provides another disturbing element to an already nightmarish scenario. Many theorists have argued that while we read texts, they read us in return. The path the team follows is most certainly reading them. Passive viewership in this sort of piece is not as rewarding as it may be in other movies, though the YellowBrickRoad does contain plenty of surface pleasures. The supernatural effects the team encounters are subtle, by and large, but eerily effective. A scarecrow is one of only two figures from The Wizard of Oz to visit this story, but its appearance is gruesome in a film largely devoted to unseen terrors. Though the movie implies more violence than it shows, one particular act caught this reviewer entirely off guard, an event all too rare in an age of telegraphed and heavily prepared-for brutalities.

The movie is the first effort from Jesse Holland and Andy Mitton. I cannot wait to see where they go next. While there are some minor deficiencies with the plot (particularly in how fast the team passes from excitement to anxiety) and some jarring special effects (the final image, wonderfully horrific in both its shape and implications, is still a bit too artificial looking), YellowBrickRoad is a fascinating, unique journey into the dark hearts of its characters. Those woods loom in the imagination even as the credits roll and, if you are open to the unresolved nature of its mystery, that path and what you see at its end will haunt you too.

[1] Interestingly enough, one of The Blair Witch Project’s directors, Daniel Myrick, recently released The Objective, a movie more comfortable with uncertainty than his previous work and far more comparable with YellowBrickRoad.

37 replies to “At the End of the Path: A Review of “YellowBrickRoad”

  1. wonderful review. i was looking for some sort of explanation for the ending, and I’m glad i finally came across your review. great insight, thank you

  2. Superb review. I felt “YellowBrickRoad” had enormous implications at various levels, the kind that are usually attributed to the literary, but which in this case represented the best use of film as a medium for expressing them. You definitely captured all of those. Thanks for this.

  3. This review ranks up there with some of the best reviews put out when “2001: A Space Odyssey” was first released. It left the viewer with the same kind of “WTF?” attitude that this movie left me in. Your review explained the underpinnings of the mythos and the reasons why the action progressed as it did. I don’t mind a movie‑s that haunts me because it makes me think, but I do hate it when it just doesn’t gel at the end. Jello, anyone?

  4. This is the most valiant effort I’ve ever seen of someone trying to explain something that made absolutely no sense. WWII? Nice. The ending sucked, plain and simple. We don’t need to look any further than that. 

    You obviously put a decent amount of time into coming up with this though… so kudos to you.

  5. Excellent write up, they should’ve ran this review at the end before the credits, the combo is quite moving. There’s obviously a lot of metaphors in the film. Like their mileage and the trail seeming endless or infinite which could be a metaphor for the endless questions of life that can only seem to be answered in metaphors and the only way to explain a metaphor is with a metaphor and so on. Hence being infinite like time and space (metaphor). The human mind is not meant to fully understand infinity and the struggle to find it will lead to.…

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  7. An exceptionally well written review! I watched this movie twice this week on CHILLER. To say that it left an impact on me would be an understatement. I found this movie to be extremely unsettling and thought provoking unlike the simplistic and formula “blood and gore fests” that have currently been shown on CHILLER.

    Just a genuinely engaging and creepy film!

  8. Thank you for posting such an interesting review of such an interesting (and truly disturbing) film.

  9. Curtis seems to have the right of this. It seems as though you spent more effort attempting to make sense and put to word the point of a film that honestly doesn’t deserve it.
    The film follows a pattern of vague, semi psychological horror/thrillers of late: without point, message or talent. You’re grasping at shadows in your attempt to make sense of what in the end is just bad cinema.

  10. This was truly a well written and well thought out review. As I was watching this movie for the first time the mystery and unexplained events in this movie wrapped around my mind like a wire, nauseating me and pushing me into a low degree of insanity. At the final point in this movie the only thing i could say was, “what the hell just happened.”

  11. First off, I saw this movie a day ago and it has stuck with me. Not many movies leave me disturbed like that and it almost causes you to take the same surreal journey as the characters. It’s not the best movie and some parts are lacking, but some parts are really good and some of the imagery is truly haunting. Everyone complains of the ending, but here is my theory. Teddy, like Dorothy, leaves his firends behind and ends up right where they started (Dorothy-farm/Teddy-cinema). The twist being that as Dorothy finds out it’s all been a crazy dream, Teddy is left insane with his world torn apart as his wife had predicted.Maybe?

  12. YellowBrickRoad is a gem of a horror film. No movie has really stayed with me (read: disturbed me) this much since the original Hostel. If you’re a fan of the genre you owe it to yourself to check it out. That said, there are indeed a lot of pieces that remain unexplained, but I’ll offer my take on some of these things in hopes there is some discussion about it (there is not a whole lot of analysis online about this film).

    The ending: I’ve noticed that this seems to be the most polarizing aspect of the film for viewers; the ending is somewhat open-ended and that is hard for many people to take. Ultimately, the movie theatre scene is indeed a reflection of the pre-war era the disappeared townsfolk lived in (the countdown has an emergency broadcast system alert sound, the burnt landscape is that of a bomb ravaged landscape). But the point may have been that the road started and ended at the movie theatre. It could suggest the mindset of the townsfolk in the 40’s, which are that all roads lead to destruction, and such destruction is caused by no one but ourselves. So in
    some ways, this is a commentary on man and his role in war as a tool for self-destruction.

    The record theme: the group hears music throughout, but at some points, as the volume increases, the sound skips like a needle skipping on a record. The map-making brother states at one point that the landscape is a spiral and that they were heading toward an epicenter. This is not unlike a vinyl record; in this case the landscape reflects the grooves on such a record. It seems to me that if we visualize the group walking across a giant vinyl record with a needle on it, the music would get louder as they approach the needle, and if they interrupt the needle (like a piece of dust might do on the surface of a record), the sound will skip. So it’s almost as if they were working their way toward the center of a giant record on a player. Another suggestion of the vinyl metaphor: just before the insane leg scene, map making brother keeps asking his sis “is it scratched” — a big concern with vinyl records. When a record gets scratched, it is never the same — following this critical turning point in the film, no one in the group is the same.

    The hat: my guess is that the hat is what drove map making brother insane ahead of the others. It’s clear that some kind of spirits exist in the forest, some of them likely those of the townsfolk. So the hat could act as a conduit, or an express route to insanity.

    The gloved hand dragging the body away: correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the red coat and white gloves the uniform that the flying monkeys wear in Wizard of Oz? If so, this suggests that the malicious spirits in the forest (maybe a wicked witch?) playing the music were some kind of siren song, created in order to draw the townsfolk in and devour their souls (or whatever malicious spirits do). Since Wizard of Oz was an town-wide obsession, the malicious spirit figured that embodying the music and characters from WOO would be the best bait to get everyone up there. The townsfolk probably thought they had found their path to the Emerald City when the heard the music, and they made a beeline for it. Unfortunately it was just a ruse by the witch.

    There is also a possibility that everyone was having a group hallucination based on consuming berries, and everything was imagined, much like Dorothy wakes up at the end of Wizard of Oz only to discover it was all a dream. The hallucination theory is also similar to Alice in Wonderland, to which I think some of YellowBrickRoad’s themes owe to.

    Would love to hear other interpretations of this. Anyone agree or disagree?

  13. This review was quite compelling in it’s attempt to help explain this movie, but I think ‘OohMamma says…’ in-depth comment above actually hit the mark for me and ties up a lot of my questions about this movie very nicely, to the point where I can now say that “Yes, I enjoyed the movie”. I try to keep an open mind with this kind of story telling and have no issue with open-ended endings (even artsy ones), but I have to say that I think this ending was just badly managed (hence my need to have to seek an answer here to what certain parts of the movie and in particular, its ending, was supposed to say).

  14. Just watched this film, and really appreciate the in-depth review and the discussion. It’s definitely a film that could provoke much thought and discussion. Very well written. To some of OohMamma’s points: Absolutely love the vinyl record analogy! Totally agree on the hat, although I would add that either the environment or maybe even the hat was affecting her too. It seemed to me that she was reacting to some of the things he did a bit too strongly, although that could be a brother/sister relationship that that just got magnified. The gloved hand I think was the theater guy. He was wearing the white gloves and a red jacket as part of his uniform. However, he could definitely be the “flying monkey”. :-) The group hallucination from berries is plausible, but I don’t think it fits in with the narrative. Great thoughts all around though!

  15. Your review is delightfully great!!! A superb reading of the film. I just wanted to point that regarding your ideas of the ending and it’s meaning, it came to me that the polithycal implications of the films is tied in the main character with the myth of Faust, the longing of the men for knowledge that leads to destruction. A great film!!

  16. A very mediocre movie at best. The acting was suspect, the plot sketchy, the ending vague and overly dramatic. One of those movies that begs the question, “why did i just waste my time watching that!”

  17. This is not a good movie.
    There…said it.

    This is more of a pretentious movie that pretends to have some deep meaning, and wants you to be sent off pondering its deeper meaning, but in reality you spent 1 hour and 35 minutes watching a group of adults wander around some scrub-brush as they randomly and inexplicably fly into random rage at one another over no real provocation.

    There is no real monster or malevolent force reavealed. No one explains how everyone hears this same 40’s music or eardrum shattering feedback at various points, and this is the only real antagonist in the movie other than the other characters who without any sort of motivation choose to murder each other in a couple cases, or get high on ‘nightshade’ berries.

    While there is room for a movie that leaves some intellectual work to the viewer, this movie has no coherent plot or storyline. There is nothing scary in the movie, and after the first hour ticks away and the same pack of people you really do not have any interest in are still wandering the woods while arguing over almost nothing, the only real question that needs to be answered is.. how did their ATV still have fuel after like 10 days during which they have travelled as many as 50 miles a day in some cases..? They would need a fuel tank as big as the ATV itself — this is simply a wannabe pretentious art-house aspiring movie by people who could not create a really fleshed-out plot,
    so they compensated by pretending to have something profound to say if only you can figure out their genius.. Like the ATV which never needs refueling, there really is no rhyme or reason here, its a general CONCEPT not a actual PLOT.

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  19. I just watched this movie again, but this time I started at the beginning rather than in the middle. Did anyone else notice the clerk at the beginning? He was the theatre attendant at the end! AND he said, “Enjoy your movie” in both places. Basically, he set this guy and his friends up to travel the road and, basically, make his own movie (life choices leading to the outcome). Perhaps he wanted to keep the secret of the road a secret by giving the information to someone who was obviously obsessed with it and who would, therefore, travel the road to the end, just like the townspeople did before him. The music was a lure, a siren call which, if anyone remembers their mythology, drove sailors mad so that they ended up wrecking their ship and killing themselves on the rocks or threw themselves overboard (like the character who walked off the cliff). The attendant, rather than being a benign character, is actually the author or the catastrophe and may have even been the original owner of the town theatre where the townspeople became addicted to “The Wizard of Oz”. Perhaps he is actually a malignant force who calls the unwary to their demise for his own demented purpose. His forceful handling of the main character at the end of the film certainly implied as much, as though he felt the man had somehow earned his fate by leading so many astray, including his wife, and then abandoning them. The theatre was both the alpha and the omega of the film, the start of the road and the end of it, the promise of a sweet fantasy and the horror of a yet-to-be-realized future. All who walked the road met and end, but “not all ends are the same”. Once started, there was no turning back to the real world.
    At the end, the main character ended up abandoning everyone else to pursue his quest

  20. I was working on a write up for this film for my own blog and happened to come across your own review. Excallent work. I will add your blog to my list of regular reads.

  21. This is definitely one of the best and most eloquently written reviews of this film I have ever had the pleasure to read. Thank you so much for an unbiased, intelligent review. I am not one to be easily scared or disturbed by a movie, but this one stuck in my brain for days after I first watched. The soundtrack was one of the single most disturbing soundtracks I’ve ever experienced. And yes, it ‑is- an experience. You cannot simply watch this film or listen to the soundtrack. It absolutely requires you to be an active participant and to actually think about what you’ve watched. It is definitely one of my favourite movies.

  22. You seem to want the answer too or you wouldnt have tossed so many pieces at the wall to see what sticks. We all want answers its why people belive in Oz and God to start with. It was the berris man. They ate them at some point and didnt show it because it puts the viewer in the shoes of someone whos tripping out and freaking out. Good review but I think whoever made the movie would be pretty impressed at how much you wrote into it. Sort of like taking any classic painting and making notes for a couple hours and showing it to the artist who’s eyebrows then go up and they chuckle.

  23. I find it ironic that everyone upset at this review and the movie in general have the grammar of an autistic 12 year old. The movie clearly has a point that was deliberate and intentional but was purposefully vague for stylistic reasons. It was by no means “just random for no reason”. Thank you for this review, it was very well written.

  24. Excellent review. The haunting part of the movie that hasn’t been mentioned was the main character had a chance to at least spend eternity in the theater with his wife. By abandoning her, and subsequently driving her mad, he is doomed to be alone with the spirits.

  25. Excellent review and definitely the kind of film you want to discuss with others after you’ve viewed it. I love oohmamma’s analogies as well. This was definitely a story about spiraling into madness and many of the elements that lead to it. Desire of the unknown and untouchable, wanting more than you can or should have, fear, alone-ness, desperation, escapism … etc. the record analogy makes sense in that the landscape was not consistent. I definitely knew the hat would lead to disaster, the objects of tortured souls often do, and the foreshadowing of the path beginning at the theater makes us think the townsfolk were living a fantasy of sorts, many fantasies turn into nightmares. Very interesting film. If you were hoping for a simpleminded slasher film I can see why this was disappointing. This was much more of a ‘man is his own worst enemy’ story.

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  27. Great write-up! I had YBR in my Netflix queue for a really long time before I finally gave it a go.

    It’s still stuck in my head, like an itch I can’t quite scratch. lol Honestly, I kept expecting them to find speakers in the trees, or an abandoned military or science lab where they were doing experiments with sound. Because the music seemed to be just as much of a bad guy as the rest of the characters.

    I.…didn’t understand the ending. I have my own theory, but I’m going to have to write it out in fiction form before I’m committed to it.

  28. For those who feel this movie was “lazy” or “pretentious”: I’ve seen a lot, and I mean a LOT, of bad horror movies. Some pretentious, but most were lazy. So when I come across a GOOD one, it’s an appreciated break from the same-ol’ same-ol’. 

    This was one of the GOOD ones…with a bad ending. I was enjoying it up until the end, but on reading this review and the reviews and comments of others (here and other places), I’m glad to see I wasn’t the only one wondering about it.

    I now want to re-watch it, and see if it makes more sense the second time around. But not right now; I don’t do horror at night. Only in the daytime, when I can see everything. lol

    But no; nothing about this movie struck me as “random”. Unexpected? Sure! But random? Not in the least! If nothing else, you can say that listening to the same music at that volume for so long eventually drove them nuts.…which is why it’s used as a form of torture. Or, was. I don’t know if it still is, but it’s been proven to be effective for both confessions and impending insanity.

    It reminded me of “Cube” in a lot of ways. (Which, if you’ve seen that one, you’ll get my meaning.)

  29. Oohmamma’s interpretation of this film was very well said and obviously carefully thought out. I have always been a fan of eerie films that leave me feeling unsettled and in search of alternate perspectives. This film, however, prompted me to seek the conclusions of others due to a lacking. Perhaps the film was simply about humanity’s indulgence into the perversions of our own design. Whether it is through creating the arenas in which such perversions can play out, being the actors, being passive or aggressive audience members. The movie theater, the townspeople, the investigators, the theater operator, and the forest itself all represent those roles. The film’s plot could easily be the writer’s interpretation of humanity’s mysterious interconnectedness and our ability to pull one another into dramatic, horrific and sometimes beautiful scenes without intention, simply by coexisting.

  30. i think this movie at its simplest is about obsession going wrong and turning nasty.The coauthor has an obsession to write a book and improve his life and obviously fails whether because of himself or outside malicious forces.The town wants to improve their life inspired by woo .Their obsession went bad.Trying to make an improvement work in the real world we might find ourselves venturing into crazy territory and getting stuck in a real nightmare. The ending can be interpreted he failed in devastating fashion taking down those he loved as well.One of those rare movies i have watched a few times entertained, and then hit by a puzzling ending.This is a basic way this movie works but also many fascinating ideas have been commented.

  31. For those less interested in the satisfying figurative message of YBR we have a kind of sophisticated male variation of blair witch project.A perverse wizard of oz taking any who dare trespass (hoping for a magical experience ) ‚driving them mad and suicidal and turning them into a neverending snuff cinema of pain for their impudence.The last character survives long enough to reveal the true horror of bad oz.Of course just getting a loved one killed qualifies as true horror.

    driving them mad and suicidal

  32. What was up with the clerk guy at the window wearing latex gloves? And that was the dirtiest teller’s window ever, wasn’t it? Between all that, and the guy telling Mr. Barnes to “enjoy your picture show”, I would have gotten the hell out of there.

    I got all the way through it, but I have no desire to every watch this bummer of a movie ever again. It wasn’t bad. Just…what’s the point? Don’t we have enough real horrifying events taking place around? Do we need to invent so many more?

  33. Wow. What a review. You obviously need to get laid more. The chiller channel is rotting your brain. B movie horror all the way. Actors that look like real famous actors Senseless murder scenes and best of all a shitty ending that explained nothing. You act like like this is a masterpiece. Lol. Well you got the ” piece” part right. The only question is piece of what. I leave that to u.

  34. While I have to admit that I didn’t see everything that the reviewer did in YellowBrickRoad I don’t know if that means that it was actually there and I missed it or the reviewer filled in the blanks with the content of his own experience.

    That being said, the movie was puzzling enough that I want to see it again, which I think is a sign that it was well done.

  35. Re-watched some of the beginning. The coordinates lead them to the theater, insisting the trail is there- well… it is. In a sense Live is the Trail since the path through the theater leads straight to her popcorn stand, and she leads them to the rock with all the graffiti on it. We don’t see her die either.
    In the lobby there’s also a mannequin holding a gramophone which is a huge blatant clue to the vinyl record theory. 

    But even before that when they’re toasting the success of the expedition, an unseen glass shatters. Melissa jumps at the sound, but the scene cuts away abruptly- you never see who broke the glass. This has got to be a nod to 2001: A Space Odyssey. [SPOILER ALERT] During the confusing end scene Bowman breaks a glass and the picture jumps- this has been taken to mean that the character realizes he is inside a film and has become self-aware (watch Bob Ager’s “Collative Learning” video about the Monolith)

    Throughout the beginning of the movie, pre-trail, people keep saying weird things that just don’t make sense- especially Walter. Even the guy at the records office (or whatever that government building is with the filthy bank-teller window) says “enjoy the picture show.” This is a really weird thing to say, which indicates that Teddy is already in the theater. Since the world of the trail is a spiral it’s possible that Teddy and the others have re-lived the whole horrible experience many times over. It keeps repeating, maybe different each time, and what we’re seeing is not their first time through.

    This movie really reminded me of the Shining- the haunting music echoing thru the “hallways” (in this case the forest) and at one point Liv really looks like a stressed-out Shelly Duvall.
    I just wish the ending had the same impact as the Shining’s…