After the death f their father, Derek’s family have moved in with their grandmother in a new town. The transition has not been too difficult as Derek has made some good friends at his high school, works at the local teen hangout and has even caught the eye of Christy, one of the more popular girls at school. Life is good. But this all changes after Derek’s little brother accepts a dare and takes the town’s infamous shortcut. Cutting through some woods owned by a man rumored to be nuts, the shortcut is believed to be the last place some of the town’s missing denizens – and pets – were last seen alive. He made it through the shortcut successfully but did encounter a mutilated dog and the crazy, old man himself. Not too happy with his little brother being threatened, Derek and his friends develop Operation Old Man. They plan on spying on him and poke around his property, hopefully finding evidence proving their belief that the old man has been up to no good over the years.
Adam Sandler is not normally known for his horror movies (well, Zohan was terrifying) but he hopes to change this with his new horror movie production company, Scary Madison. One of the first films under this new banner is The Shortcut. Written by Scott Sandler and Dan Hannon and directed by Nicholaus Goossen who directed Grandma’s Boy under Adam Sandler’s other production company, Happy Madison. So, what do you get when a man known for his comedies executive produces a horror film directed by someone widely known for his comedy film? Surprisingly, you do not get a piece of shit. It wasn’t a great horror film, but that had less to do with the talent behind the film, even with a too predictable story, and more to do with the Powers That Be neutering the film with a PG-13 rating.
And no, I am not one of those people that think all horror should be rated R to be good, so shaddup. The reason why the decision kinda hurt this film is because it gets stuck between being a Scooby Doo-ish horror flick for a younger audience, and a full-fledged, heavy horror film. The script is painfully predictable and you will have figured out everything within the first 30 minutes, so it is still a testament to how decent the movie was in that I still stayed interested all the way to the credits. But predictability wasn’t my major gripe. What bothered me most was the watered down nature of it all.
The Shortcut delves into some heavy subjects with two of them, killer kids and rape, being introduced right out of the gate. But because of the rating these subjects, along with others, had to have some of the wind taken out their sails. This doesn’t hurt the investigation portions of the film when the kids are trying to figure out what the secret of the shortcut is, but when it came to the violence it hurt it bad. Imagine a Scooby Doo episode. Let’s take one of my favorites – Spooky Space Kook. You know it, the one with the alien with the bubble helmet and a glowing skull with the kickass laugh. Imagine that episode if nothing was altered aside from Velma getting decapitated by the alien at some point, even though it is never shown. It would completely change the entire tone of the episode making it too disturbing for the kids, but since they didn’t actually show Velma’s head coming off, too tame for horror fans.
That’s kinda how The Shortcut is. Fairly tame until the horror portions show up and are handled with kid’s gloves. It was kind of jarring in how it shifted gears. On one hand I was surprised that a fairly tame movie like this just had someone get their skull bashed in with a sledgehammer but on the other hand, I was disappointed they didn’t show the guy get his head bashed in with the sledgehammer. But this may be good news for some of you who are not into all that gooey, red stuff and just want a scary movie you can watch with the chirrun this Halloween. As most of you know, I like my horror dark and brutal, so even though The Shortcut does not fit either of those two descriptions, here are couple reasons that I enjoyed the movie.
First, these guys know how to make a movie look good with some talented, good-looking cast members. At least from my viewpoint. Between Shannon Woodward and Katrina Bowden, there is enough eye-candy throughout The Shortcut to keep any perv man happy. Hell, even the extras have nice racks.
Woodward (Bow), Bowden (Chicka), Extra (Wow Wow)
They all do fine for this kind of movie and do not come off as annoying teens that usually populate these kind of films. Hell, the entire cast does fine. Derek (Andrew Seeley) and his best friend Mark (Dave Franco doing his best impression of his brother’s role in Pineapple Express) are all likable enough and all come across believable as teenaged friends with dialog exchanges that is pretty well-written and not Rob Zombie retarded.
Second, it deals with a wooded shortcut. Some of you out there had to have had one in your neighborhood, right? I did. We used it as kids, and later on as teens, used it to hide out and get plastered. It was a half-mile long dirt path through an undeveloped track of woods that connected a busy road to our neighborhood. You could use it and shave off about 10 minutes or so of walking time. Doesn’t sound like much but when you trying to get to the 7-11′s Double Dragon machine before that fucking Rick Wallers lined his quarters up on it, or later on in life, meeting Tiffany Rottencrotch to partake in some skunk weed and a bit of stink finger – well, sometimes it that 10 minutes was worth the spookiness of it all.
So maybe that is why I really liked certain aspects of this film. I could relate to the woods and the forbidden shortcut. The rumors of the crazy man in the film echoed the same type of stories we had always heard about with our shortcut. Crazy men with axes, outlaw bikers hiding from the law, escaped lunatics eating their own flesh or worse – homosexual, drunken bums ready to gang rape. So keep that in mind when I give this a three star rating. Even though it was horror-lite and was too predictable - good directing and a good cast kept me intrigued throughout and more importantly, entertained. Take The Shortcut when it is released on DVD on the September 29th.
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