Netflix horror worth your time #5: Yellowbrickroad

We all escape one way or another.

Through books, soap operas, other daydream fantasies, booze.

Or movies, like The Wizard of Oz, which is one big escape. From a black and white struggling farm to a vivid world filled with charming little people, flying monkeys and a wizard. (Synch up Dark Side of the Moon and you’ll really have something.)

All you gotta do is follow the yellow brick road.

In the movie Yellowbrickroad, things have always been hard in the town of Friar, N.H. Apparently especially in 1940, a year after Oz’s release, when all the town’s people, for no known reason, head out to the wilderness and try to follow what will ironically be called their town’s invisible Yellow Brick Road.

They all died somehow and somewhere out in the woods. Frozen to death. Murdered. Some just missing.

And nearly 70 years later, Teddy Barnes, a researcher and an expeditionist, decides to find out where they went.

He tracks down all the government files on the issue, gets a crew together, and heads out. But his info is bad, or his instruments are, because the coordinates for the trailhead puts them at the town’s theater, Rialto.

“Are you like retarded hikers of something?” asks the ticket taker, when Teddy and his band walk through.

Teddy had been tracking down the info for awhile and this setback has him discouraged, but in the theater he finds a townie, who knows where the trailhead can be found.

“We drink there sometimes to get scared,” she says.

Of course they’re marching off to their doom.

The first evidence is a stray 40s fedora they find in the woods. Probably evidence of the first lost expedition. Daryl, one of their map specialists picks it up and dons.

“Seems the best way to keep a hat safe,” he explains to his fellow mapmaker. She’s of course afraid they’ll catch whatever killed or drove crazy the original band of crazies.

There’s more signs, of course, for example, their GPS says they’re in Guam, and then comes the signature, unsettling ominous detail.

The music. From somewhere out in the distance. Something from the 1940s of course and from a record player. You can hear it scratch from time to time.

Like The Signal, in which this constant evil tone drives people into a homicidal rage, the music of Yellowbrickroad plays day and night. Most members of the expedition figure that if they follow it, that it is playing from the center of something, where the answers are, where the wizard lives.

Walter, their behavioral psychologist, who is tasked with making sure no one goes off the deep end, though, is a bit concerned.

“We don’t know what’s going on here and I think we should leave,” he says, throwing in a classic Jaws allusion, “I think we need a bigger boat.”

But they push forward, walking for days and days, miles into the wilderness.

Until one day, Daryl and his fellow mapmaker get into a scrap. They push each other and take each other down until Daryl pickups a large rock, holds it above his head and hammers it against her leg until he can remove her leg from her body.

He of course kills her and then of course runs off, loose in the trees waiting to kill more.

But they keep walking.

“I think we should go home with answers,” Teddy explains.

His base question in all of this is why did they walk originally, the townspeople of 1940. Where were they going and why.

“If you live in town long enough,” the townie says, “you know why they walked. You always know the trail is there. You feel like the trail will understand. Now I think that’s the worst part. That it does.”

And that’s what I enjoy most about the movie. We all want to find the trail, find where it goes. We want to discover something.

Some people do GPS tagging, geocaching. They hide a prize at specific coordinates and you go find it.

I like to go to weird spots like Centralia or the graveyard from the Night of the Living Dead.

Hoping there might be some residue or something leftover from the weirdness that once was.

But for the most part we stay put. Stay in the daily ruts we carve from home to work and back. Afraid of what danger might await on the yellow brick road.

And apparently there is danger there.


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