The other night I watched a film I've been interested in for a while: YellowBrickRoad. I'd seen the trailers and read some about the filming. Independent, low-budget, off-the-wall, perhaps...it all seemed to be right up my alley.
So when I saw it was available for streaming on Netflix, I was mildly overjoyed. I watched it. It wasn't what I was expecting--and I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing.
See, I expected some sort of payoff: some sort of explanation. I'm an American consumer. As much as I try to shake the cultural strictures with which I have been saddled, I remain a product of my environment. When I experience narrative that develops a mystery, I want to have that mystery solved. It's a conflict, and conflicts are made to be resolved.
Now, I don't want the answer spoon-fed to me. But I do want to have the feeling that I can be confident in my interpretation. YellowBrickRoad, unfortunately, gives me no such sense of confidence. The confusing resolution to the film, if it can indeed be called such, is a significant letdown.
I must say, though, that I am partial to experiential communication. That's my term for any form of communication that shows instead of tells. Poems that immerse the reader, photography that communicates emotion rather than image, films that force the viewer into the narrative. YellowBrickRoad, in my uninformed opinion, is an experiential film. If indeed it is a tale of mass psychosis, it almost forces the viewer to become a character in the film. The path of the narrative, and the way it's communicated, makes the viewer feel a sense of disorientation, confusion, and irrational annoyance.
Much has been made of the ending of YellowBrickRoad; most of that much has been negative. I won't address that issue, because I am still lost in the woods of understanding this film. I haven't gotten to the end of my thinking yet. I will say this: this movie ends with the devil you don't know. Philosophically speaking, then, the horror climaxes at the end; my confusion, my lack of understanding, is worse than any imaginable explanation.
I give YellowBrickRoad 3 Reels on Ian's Totally Subjective Film Rating System.
Long live division!