Monday, August 26, 2019

Take the Long Way Home

The day may come when I turn down a heavily photoshopped poster of hot young people looking too serious, but it is not this day.

Quick Plot: A prologue introduces us to the titular shortcut, a wooded path in a small town where back in the '40s, a young woman escaped sexual assault by a soon-to-be soldier only to be slingshotted-to-death by a creepy little kid. So that's nice.

Cut to the present day (or 2009's flip phone variation of it), where high school senior Derek and little brother Tobey have just moved to town following the death of their father. Derek is your typical smartass protagonist who's aged rather terribly in the nine years since The Shortcut's release: good-looking white kid who forcefully, annoyingly hits on the school's hottest soccer player (30 Rock's Katrina Bowden), somehow winning her despite him being a complete jerk.

Young Tobey takes a bully's dare to walk home through the woods, where upon he encounters a far-less-grizzled-than-the-script-suggests old man and a dead dog. Could she be Tammy, pet to football jock Taylor (aka the only likable character in the movie?).

Derek teams up with Taylor, pals Lisa (Westworld's Shannon Woodward) and Mark ("Oh Hi Mark" Dave Franco), and the nice hot chick with terrible taste in men to investigate. Throughout their planning, we get more flashbacks explaining the insanity of The Shortcut's keepers, a wealthy, once esteemed family whose bad seed son led to their downfall.

The Shortcut is produced by Adam Sandler's Scary Madison (a division of Happy Madison, in case it didn't click) and directed by Grandma's Boy's Nicholaus Goossen. It's probably a good thing you know this going in, since it helps to classify The Shortcut as some form of horror comedy. 

Truthfully, I have no idea if this is meant to be funny. The film dances around for a good hour before delving into genre territory, which would be fine if the horror actually hit or the comedy was in any way entertaining.

The biggest problem with The Shortcut is that, like so many films of its ilk, its characters are awful. Lisa and Mark are unnecessarily cruel to little Tobey. Derek is incredibly unpleasant, and the mere fact that he charms Bowden makes us question her taste. The film seems to be making a joke out of Taylor's linebacker stature, but he is, without question, the only person onscreen I didn't want to see die. 

Spoiler alert: he does.

There's a decent twist to The Shortcut, followed by an even better one that certainly redeems the rather ho-humness of most of its running time. But overall, this is a strangely undecided film, one clearly made by a team that has seen a horror movie or two without really understanding what makes them work. 

High Points
It doesn't hit the way it should because we just don't care, but the final moments do come out of nowhere in a somewhat effective manner

Low Points
Did I mention how much I hate everyone?

Lessons Learned
When sneaking around in a remote cabin where the owner is confirmed as being out of the way, always remember to bring a good flashlight because under no conditions would you turn a light on in a remote cabin when the whole reason you're there is because no on else is near

Eh. I appreciated the rather bonkers ending, but The Shortcut's inability to commit to horror or comedy leaves it incredibly unsatisfying. 


  1. Hey, I just wanted to let you know that I am an occasional lurker here at your blog, and I love it. I like how religiously and consistently you post, and I love your undying commitment to horror movies (which I share -- that's how I stumbled across your blog a year or two ago). I just wanted to say thanks, and that I'm always interested in your take on these flicks even when I've never heard of them or have no interest in seeing them. It's just nice to know there are other people who appreciate this kind of stuff.

    1. Thank you so much for the kind words! It really means a lot!