Cryptic pic follows a team of researchers investigating an town's disappearance decades earlier.

Cryptic “Yellowbrickroad” follows a team of researchers investigating an entire town’s disappearance decades earlier. A “Blair Witch”-y conceit sans handheld jerky-cam, this debut feature for Andy Mitton and Jesse Holland is a well-crafted horror-mystery, though its lack of narrative explanation and conventional shocks will limit exposure to fests and niche DVD.

Seven mostly young university academics embark on a field trip to re-map an area of rural New Hampshire last charted in detail a century ago, and also to probe a legendary enigma: In 1940, citizens of the tiny burg of Friar walked en masse into the nearby woods; some were found dead but most simply vanished. No current citizens will talk with these nosy visitors, save one who will show them the elusive trail head if they let her come along. Once en route, the group finds an antique hat that has a disturbing effect on wearers. They also hear increasingly close, distorted music (Milton and Dan Brennan’s sound design is a major element). Gradually all degenerate into disorientation, madness and violence. Underwhelming finish explains zilch, but good perfs, atmospherics and use of backwoods locations make “Yellowbrickroad” an intriguing cipher.

YellowBrickRoad

Production

A Points North production. Produced by Eric Hungerford. Executive producers, Cassidy Freeman, Clark Freeman. Co-producer, Anessa Ramsey. Directed, written by Andy Mitton, Jesse Holland.

Crew

Camera (color, HD), Michael Hardwick; editors, Judd Resnick, Holland, Mitton; production designer, Joseph Varca. Reviewed on DVD, Jan. 26, 2010, Park City, Utah. (In Slamdance Film Festival -- competing.) Running time: 98 MIN.

With

Michael Laurino, Anessa Ramsey, Alex Draper, Cassidy Freeman, Clark Freeman, Tara Giodano, Sam Elmore, Laura Hesler, Lee Wilkof.

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