The Shortcut – DVD Review


Adam Sandler is trying Horror? Horrible idea right? Ok, it’s not exactly Adam Sandler in the movie, but it’s his studio.

This is the first movie from under the “Scary Madison” banner. And for the first movie he goes to a familiar director, Nicholaus Goossen, who helmed the cult hit Grandma’s Boy. This is Goossen’s second film. So he’s kinda getting the full spectrum of movies taken care of early. Stoner humor to Thriller.

Yes, while this is a scary movie, it’s much more of a thriller than a straight up horror flick. It has its requisite jump frights it is full of many more tense moments.

The movie opens in the 1940s when the terror starts on a guy and his sweetie taking a shortcut. He gets a little too frisky for her liking. After a little altercation, the guy limps away leaving the girl to herself. As she is composing herself a small boy walks up to her. She tells him to go get help, but he has other ideas. That leads us to our opening sequence.

First time I watched the opening sequence I knew it was familiar but I couldn’t figure out why. Like all stupid questions, it was answered later when I watched the commentary. The guy who made the opening sequence for this movie is the same guy who directed Splinter and I reviewed that movie earlier this year. The openings aren’t exactly the same, but they have similarities.

Back to present day, we’re in school walking with our two main characters, played by Ryan Seeley and Shannon Woodward, walking through the halls talking. There are a couple little jokes through this part; “I hate Paul Pierce” is actually a funny line in this movie. We’re then introduced to the best friend character played by Dave Franco. Seeley’s character then has to go talk to the school’s guidance counselor because he’s new to school and just quit the crew team. This is when we meet Katrina Bowden who looks insanely familiar but I’ve never seen anything else she’s in. Cut to the end of the school day and we’re finding the younger kids now as Toby (Seeley’s characters brother) is being pressure into taking the shortcut by a couple of kids. And since he’s a young kid and trying to impress people, he takes it.

As he’s going through the woods he comes upon a dead dog. He pokes around the dog for a few seconds until creepy old guy is standing behind him yelling at him asking if he likes blood. Toby bolts and runs home covered in blood where older bro is getting ready for work. When he sees Toby covered in blood he asks what happened and a couple other little bits of foreshadowing. This movie isn’t really afraid to foreshadow, but it’s done well. My first time through I noticed all the little things and thought it was all weird but the ending was still a surprise.

The next day in school, Taylor, the big hulking football player talks to Seeley’s character because he heard Toby found a dead dog on the shortcut and his dog has been missing for a few days. The two of them then decide to do a little investigating to see if it was in fact Taylor’s dog. That night they sneak onto the farm behind the shortcut and after some classic horror movie idiocies search the barn. In the barn they find a bin full of dog tags. Before they find Taylor’s dog’s tag the creepy old guy comes back so they have to go back to hiding. The old guy notices the tags have been knocked over so he knows someone has been in the barn. So he grabs sickle looking thing and ends up chasing the boys out of the barn.

Now, rather than calling the cops with the knowledge that he has tons of dog tags from people who lost their dogs and never found them, they decide to do some more searching when the old guy leaves his house on Friday to go to the VFW. I’ve skipped over a couple flashbacks so far, they’re pretty important to the story, but I don’t like giving everything away. Just know that everything fun happens during the Friday night VFW trip. There are two twists that happen in the last few minutes, the first one is easier to see coming. I picked it up a few minutes before it was revealed, the second one you don’t expect.

The Shortcut is presented in 2.40:1 Widescreen format and Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound.

It looks good. The last scene they heavily blue filtered, I don’t know if it’s meant to be a dawn shot or a night shot. I think it’s supposed to be night, but ends up looking much more like dawn. The sound is good too. The movie is PG-13, so they have to do things through sounds rather than video and it works well for the movie.

A trailer that doesn’t give everything away, what novel idea.
Commentary with the director. I’m not a fan of single-person commentary. You learn stuff, but it’s not much fun.

Happy Madison has made a bunch of movies, not many of them could really be referred to as a smart movie. Scary Madison has put out one movie, and it is definitely a thinker. You’re not going to be scared out of your wits, but you won’t figure everything out until the last few minutes of the movie because of the way it’s set up. It’s a solid thriller, nothing great, but a good first attempt from the Scary Madison people.

Starz Home Entertainment presents The Shortcut. Directed by Nicholaus Goossen. Starring Drew Seeley, Shannon Woodward, Dave Fanco and Katrina Bowden. Written by Dan Hannon and Scott Sandler. Running time: 85 minutes. Rated PG-13. Released on DVD: September 29, 2009. Available at

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