3 gibbles out of 5

Directors: Jesse Holland, Andy Mitton

Using lack of spaces in the title is like the whole numbers-for-letters thing – it doesn’t really add anything to the name, and it’s not clever anymore, so just drop it.  Just drop it, YellowBrickRoad.  Oh, but it doesn’t.  It keeps going.

See those ratings up there?  3 gibbles.  I never would have guessed.  Had I walked in for the last ten minutes of this film, I would’ve given you the ol’ “Pfft” look and peed on your shoes, then turned the movie off and put on a classic like Bruce Willis’ The Kid.  But I didn’t walk in for the last ten minutes.  Am I better or worse off?  Good question.

YellowBrickRoad proposes that, in the 40’s, all the inhabitants of a small town just took off on a path into the mountains and disappeared.  The records of the incident have been classified for whatever reason, and JUST NOW at the start of the movie, they’ve become available, and are claimed by a small crew hoping to follow the path and write a book on what they find.

A detail pops up during the start of the trek which I couldn’t tell whether or not was made clear earlier: that the town was obsessed with the Wizard of Oz.  That all they listened to was the music, and all they watched was the film, and that when they all left, they only took their nice clothes with them, nothing more.  The premise is interesting enough to start a film, even though it leaves some “What?” and “Why?” questions safely unanswered.  But whatever, it’s par for the course to just let us dangle on an idea, so I was on for the ride.

…Except… well, I’m not creeped out by Wizard of Oz.  I think I understand that the filmmakers were trying to choose an old-timey film cause old-timey films carry there own sense of creepiness, and if you want to give the directors credit (please don’t), the Wizard of Oz perhaps reflects some of the “themes” they were looking to wend into the movie.  But it’s just not creepy to me.  I watched it too many times, and it’s such a classic, that there just aren’t any dark corners to exploit.  I know this is personal – you have your hanging dwarf or whatever and your Pink Floyd, so certainly some people have weirdness feelings associated with the film.  Not me.

ANYHOW: our book writers travel along the path, and then crazy shit starts to go down.  Music from the film starts playing non-stop in the background, and people begin forgetting what they did before they started on the path…

It’s good.  The transition to blood and guts is a little sloppy, but the effect of the path on the travelers is definitely felt by the viewer.  We’re about forty minutes in by this point, and my nit aside, I was hooked.  What the hell is going on, and what the hell’s going to happen?

…And then at 41 minutes I sort of realized we were never going to find out.  The story achieves a point and then sort of stalls there.  The ending is an attempt to add a resolution on to things – and apparently if you listen to the commentary you can hear how “smart” of a film the writers felt they made – but the ending is sort of a slap in the face, a lazyman’s twist that assumes that if you tie the beginning of the movie to the end it automatically makes sense.  Can you reason out what may or may not be going on?  Sure.  But the film doesn’t ask you do that until the end, which makes me feel like no one really knew where they were taking the film until the end.

The sound was a little weird – it’s supposed to be an important part of the film, but at times when we’re supposed to be hearing things I hear nothing.  But when the music starts getting crazy, it was very effective.  I found myself wanting to cover my ears.  Similarly plus/minus is the intense clarity and brightness of everything: they use some wacky bold colors when things are great and some dark and bland colors when things are not great, but the uber-sharpness of it gave the picture a sort of cheap feel, when it would’ve been nice to be grounded in the forest with everyone.

Still: an incredibly compelling start is worth something.  And not using spaces in your title IS WORTH NOTHING

"Here's the idea for the movie. Now just toss a story on top of it..."

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