Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Shortcut (2020)

Streaming Services: Hulu
Movie Name/Year: Shortcut (2020)
Genre: Adventure, Fantasy, Horror
Length: 80 minutes
Rating: R 
Production/Distribution: Play Entertainment, Camaleo, Sternenberg Films, Mad Rocket Entertainment, Regione Lazio, Darkland Distribution, Gravitas Ventures, Minerva Pictures, WOWOW Cinema
Director: Alessio Liguori
Writer: Daniele Cosci
Actors: Jack Kane, Zander Emlano, Zak Sutcliffe, Sophie Jane Oliver, Molly Dew, David Keyes, Terence Anderson
Blurb from IMDb: A mysterious creature terrorizes five teenage friends after their bus takes a shortcut on a desolate road in the wild.

Selina’s Point of View:
Although I enjoyed the score of Shortcut, that’s the only nice thing I really have to say.
Shortcut is The Breakfast Club (1985) vs. evil.
This is a familiar trope. Projects like this go for a PG-13 rating, with very identifiable stereotypes (nerd, goofball, rebel, jock, virgin), low gore, and decent – but toned down – visuals. Many of the flicks that follow this recipe can be great. They wind up making for decent beginner horror films for teens just becoming old enough to enjoy the genre.
The thing is, Shortcut forgets its audience.
It’s rated R, first of all, which keeps the people who might enjoy it from actually being allowed to see it. It has a decent antagonist twist, early on, but then also tries to inject various tropes from other sub-genres without backing up the scenes.

For example, a character has a premonition at one point. I don’t consider this a spoiler, because it is never brought up again. Even he doesn’t mention it. It just happens, and then life moves on like it didn’t. Why bother wasting the time?
There are quite a few scenes, along those lines, that don’t matter. There’s some forced emotional bonding, some unnecessary backstory about a guy that’s not part of the plot, and some sequel baiting at the end that winds up keeping the conclusion from delivering the message it seemed to have.
I like monster movies. I wanted to like Shortcut. Unfortunately, I just couldn’t.
The creators made a film for an audience that they then barred from watching it. I thought maybe that meant they were new to directing and writing, but they’re not. It was an inexcusable oversight.
If you are looking for a starter horror flick for your 14/15-year-old that’s just starting to show interest in horror, this is not the worst start. There’s no sexual content and there’s minimal gore. It’s a soft R at most. If you’re an adult, don’t waste your time – there are better monster films out there.

Cat’s Point of View:
I feel like I just watched another movie that was misnamed. The title definitely clashes with what actually happens in Shortcut. If anything, this was a bit of a long meander rather than the brevity that the name suggests. I was surprised when I saw this was only 80 minutes long. It felt like forever.
Let me backtrack a little here and explain what I think Shortcut did right (or at least decently), before I begin the laundry list of things that irked me.
Monster movies can be great fun – especially when the critter in question is horrifying. There were some moments of real tension and horror as the shadowy figure was teased initially. I’d even go so far as to say there were flashes of the creature that were even terrifying. The rest of the time, I was simply looking at it and pondering what it was really supposed to be. That took a bit of the edge off, unfortunately. I do appreciate the fact that the production achieved the big-bad with practical effects, though. I’m afraid the majority of the tense moments and fear (using the word generously here) I experienced during this movie were at the hands of human characters.

I loved the old bus that served as a good chunk of the setting for the first half of Shortcut. It’s really neat. I’m fairly sure, however, that it can reach speeds significantly higher than shown in this film. I felt like it could have been pushed faster in some scenes. The snail-like pace of the vehicle made everything feel like it dragged on slower. It’s unfortunate, really. Iconic vehicles like that can add so much to a horror film. Take the creeper’s truck in Jeepers Creepers (2001) for example. Every time I see a truck that even remotely resembles that thing, I get chills. Of course, the two films are not in the same category when it comes to the caliber.

Sadly, the more I think about it, I am finding that every aspect I did enjoy with Shortcut had a rather dismal side to it. The story had some real potential but seemed to lose its way. There were elements that were played up to a large degree at the beginning that never saw follow-through. Some of the acting was phenomenal, and yet at other times, there was a bit left to be desired.

I thought it might be possible that the disjointed quirkiness of Shortcut could be chalked up to a difference in vision between the writer and director. When I looked at IMDb, however, I found that this particular writing and directing duo have been working together for the better part of a decade. The chances of the pair failing to envision the story as intended are slim.
In short, I had hopes for Shortcut that this movie took the long way around in order to dash.  That being said, considering the film is light on gore and has a teen-centric plot, it wouldn’t be a bad movie to have on in the background for that age group during a sleepover or something of that nature where something “scary” is desired but will largely be ignored anyway. The R rating clearly came from language, rather than the usual more grisly or explicit reasons that are common to the horror genre and yet lacking in this production.
Shortcut is not likely to remain very memorable for me, but it wasn’t bad enough for me to actively steer anyone away from it. There are far better monster films out there, though.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 59%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 24%
Metascore – 26/100
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – 3.9/10
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating2/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating2/5
Movie Trailer:

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