Celebrating it’s tenth anniversary is YellowBrickRoad (2010), a decidedly surreal horror with an experimental approach to it’s dread soaked aesthetic that in co-director Andy Mitton’s words resulted in “either full on death threats or love letters” from audiences. Looking back on the film Im far closer to the latter than the former. This is labor of love filmmaking that takes plenty of risks and showcases considerable talent behind and in front of the camera. It’s well worth the 10th anniversary edition Blu-ray it gets here.
YellowBrickRoad follows a present day author and his research team as they try to solve the mystery surrounding the disappearance of an entire small town in the 1940s. It’s a journey that starts at the towns small movie theater and leads deep into the forest trail the townspeople walked as they inexplicably abandoned their homes. As pressure mounts to find answers sonic distortions and period music fill the air and minds lose their way.
YellowBrickRoad was written and directed by Andy Mitton and Jessie Holland who would later write and direct the underrated film we go on (2016). Mitton has since written and directed the solidly creepy The Witch in the Window (2018), and The Harbinger (2022), which had it’s premiere at this years Fantasia Film Festival and garnered fantastic reviews.
The supplemental materials are way better than the former DVD release. Two featurettes cover the special makeup and practical effects as well as offer behind the scenes footage. It’s fun to see a young Robert Eggers making his contribution. He’s listed as costume designer but looks like someone just glad to be on a movie set. Interviews with Holland and Mitton, producer Eric Hungerford and real life brother and sister Clark and Emily Freeman who play cartographers and have a starting and disturbing story arc. There’s also a commentary with Mitton and Holland. I didn’t have a chance to listen to it but I will be.
Overall the supplemental stuff offers a warm dive into the sense of creative life and community that filmmakers and actors build over the course of their careers. Mitton is especially articulate about how horror can create safe spaces within in which to examine the darkness. Producer Hungerford describes the experience as hyper-meta. A group of well meaning naive individuals of like mind go into the woods on a creative quest against their better judgement. There are other parallels to real life but you can find them for yourselves. Yellowbrick comes with new cover art and a renewed lease on life via home entertainment. Stark, original filmmaking from a director and cast who have almost all gone on to have interesting careers but who also seem to understand film as a community even when it has to travel down dark trails and maddening challenges.
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