29th Mar2021

‘Shortcut’ Review

by Alain Elliott

Stars: Jack Kane, Sophie Jane Oliver, Zander Emlano, Molly Dew, Zak Sutcliffe | Written by Daniele Cosci | Directed by Alessio Liguori

Shortcut, a title that doesn’t give much away but fits nicely alongside other horror movies such as Wrong Turn and Dead End. Both of which are actually pretty good despite their uninteresting road-related titles.

Unsurprisingly, Shortcut sees a school bus take a shortcut when the way they are heading is blocked. And again, unsurprisingly this shortcut leads the passengers somewhere they do not want to end up being.

The writer and director actually do well to take you in one direction in the first twenty minutes or so but then heading into a much preferable and unexpected way after. We initially see five young teenagers – two girls and three boys – being driven somewhere on the big red school bus by a likable driver (who doesn’t last too long. But his death isn’t at the hands of the serial killer that is on the loose and apprehends the bus and takes the kids and driver hostage. Despite having a bit of a back story – this serial killer likes tongues – it’s all just a ruse to divert your attention from the real villain. The terrible creature that is lurking in the tunnels they are soon trapped inside. It works really well to. I almost rolled my eyes when the serial killer arrives on screen. He’s not all bad but he’s a bit to comical and over-acted and I wondered what exactly he would do with the kids for the next hour. So I was happy when we discover there’s more to the movie than that.

The filmmakers do well again in not giving too much away when it comes to the creature. We discover that it lives in the dark and isn’t a huge fan of light, which at first feels like a low budget excuse to make sure we don’t see the practical effects close-up, in bright light or for any length of time. But that doesn’t seem to be the case. We get to see more and more of the creature as the film goes on and it still remains impressive. It’s both original and scary, to the extent that I can live with its slow movement, which it makes it less of a threat than it could be.

Alongside some decent music (much of it very synthwave eighties influenced) are some great sound effects for the monster. Guttural, creepy and at times just plain disgusting, making the creature all that more terrifying. We even get a bit of a folklore/backstory which helps give it a bit more of an aura. The effort was definitely put in here.

The five main actors are young and clearly inexperienced but still do good jobs in their roles. They’re believable in this misfit group of friends kind of way but aren’t necessarily by their clichéd characters. It does get a bit cheesy at times and they don’t quite pull off the Breakfast Club-style ending. Despite fighting a killer monster over the space of a few hours, it doesn’t feel like they have bonded as much as the director wants you to believe they have.

That said, I only have minor complaints and this is an enjoyable horror movie. Taking in influences from several genres and ending up with something like a mix of Attack the Block and Howl but with an all new deadly creature and all in less than eighty minutes. Shortcut is worth checking out.

*** 3/5

Shortcut is out now on DVD and Digital from Darkland Distribution

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