Special midnight horror movie fails to deliver something special

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2 Stars

Seventy years ago, all of the people in the tiny New Hampshire town of Friar, all 572 of them, just up and left. No one knows why. They just started walking north one day and - with the exception of one survivor, who has no answers - no one ever saw them alive again. With the documents and police reports about the case newly unclassified, well, it's time someone wrote a book about it.

Yellowbrickroad is the second in an ongoing series of midnight horror movies created by a team-up between AMC Theaters and horror-film website Bloody Disgusting. (Check for showtimes.) It's a bold move, but this film does not hold up its end of the bargain.

There is an enjoyable sense of care that went into its making. The directors' and actors' love of craft doesn't go unnoticed, and as you watch it you get the feeling that they would have gotten a group of friends together to shoot this on a digicam if they couldn't get a budget for a proper shoot. But not only are the movie's key questions left unanswered, they are left almost entirely unexplored once the cast begins their journey on the trail.

There is a sound foundation built around the backstory of the "walkers," as they're called, and the Wizard of Oz iconography serves the first half well enough that a good movie could have come of it. But that movie never materializes once the aura of mystery around the event starts to lift. The film unravels itself just when the group unravels, and just as painfully, slowly dying a little bit where it should have had a punch of excitement.

Yellowbrickroad does, however, succeed in being thoroughly creepy at times, and reasonably tense. It also manages to deliver a few much-needed shocks along the way. But Dorothy and Toto find their answers at the end of their yellow brick road. The same can't be said of this film or its characters.


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