A group of five British teenagers are taking their usual school bus home when an unexpected detour turns their night into a nightmare. But this isn’t your average night, as a rare lunar eclipse is on the cards, as Nolan (Jack Kane) and his classmates; Bess (Sophie Jane Oliver), Karl (Zander Emlano), Queenie (Molly Dew) and Reggie (Zak Sutcliffe) soon discover.
Shortcut is a different beast, both in terms of creature and film. It’s The Goonies or Stranger Things but spliced with Jeepers Creepers 2. Sound weird? It is. But weird doesn’t always mean bad.
Directed by Alessio Liguori and starring the talents of Jack Kane, Sophie Jane Oliver, Zander Emlano, Molly Dew, and Zak Sutcliffe, Shortcut is more of a teen horror than it is an outright creature feature. The cast is mostly a collection of high school stereotypes who initially find themselves trapped on a bus with some creepy beasty stalking them and picking off the adults one at a time. The film then shifts gears in the latter half, becoming something of a “who’s hunting who?” that is rather cheesy and pretty campy.
There is a lot that I could sit and nit-pick—inconsistencies aplenty and a deus ex machina that is pretty laughable—but in truth, the film was really watchable and rather fun. Shortcut is a return to those 90s style slumber party chillers that were a dime a dozen back in the heyday of kitsch horror. I almost go so far as to call it family-friendly if the creature wasn’t quite that creepy and if there was a little less blood.
Speaking of the creature, I really cannot fault the effects team here nor the direction. The lighting is cleverly used while managing to avoid the “so dark you cannot see anything” error that so many creature features fall prey to. Our ghoulie was sufficiently creepy and murderous enough for me to stay invested and while the lore wasn’t quite as fleshed out as some might like, I personally prefer a little (or a lot) left to the imagination.
The teens did a great job pulling off their caricatures (I mean, the nerdy girl was nicknamed “I.Q”) and I found myself rooting for “team human” which is very unbecoming of me. Sure, the “plot” in the latter half of the film felt—at times—like it had been written by the cast themselves, but it did manage to keep me interested all the way to the end. Overall, I’d colour myself impressed that the cast managed to work together as well as they did; solid performances from all.
As for the overall film, the production value definitely came across as being on the higher end of the B-spectrum. It was well shot and edited with decent pacing and above-average effects. The story and dialogue definitely seemed like it was aimed at a younger audience but the blood and gore begged to differ. Structurally, some elements we’re a bit confusing or perhaps just strange, but it manages to hold together albeit a bit of a Frankenstein where the plot is concerned.
Shortcut is a popcorn flick. It’s a fun horror that is probably best shared with friends or perhaps some younger siblings. I’d even throw it on as a family flick if the young ones were mature enough and if your family was as deranged as mine. Thanks for reading and as always, stay sordid. Shortcut will be available on DVD and Digital Download from 29th March! Pre-order your digital copy here & DVD copy here. Trailer and poster below.
Site founder. Horror enthusiast. Metalhead.