Director – Nicholaus Goossen
Cast – Andrew Seeley, Shannon Woodward, Dave Franco, Katrina Bowden, Raymond J. Barry, Kent Allen, Wendy Anderson, Jeremy Bastian, Cavan Cunningham, William B. Davis, Benjamin DeWalt, Nicholas Elia
Release Year – 2009
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Adam Sandler’s “Happy Madison” production company has made a name for themselves with popular comedy films like Little Nicky, Joe Dirt, and especially…Grandma’s Boy. Well, the guys at Happy Madison finally treaded over to the horror film(referring to themselves as “Scary Madison” for this one) and gave us this campy little PG-13 horror film that despite some flaws actually comes out an OK watch.
The Shortcut follows two brothers, the older Derek and younger Tobey, who have recently relocated to a new town. One day after school Tobey takes the “shortcut” home from school, and encounters a creepy old man as well as the gored carcass of a family’s pet. When Derek hears of what happened, he investigates the “shortcut” with a few friends he has made at school, and stumbles upon a dark and deadly secret that has been plaguing the small town for half a century.
I did not know what to expect when I went into this one, and I actually found that quite fun. Thoughts like “Are the Happy Madison guys going to get too silly with this one?”, or “Are they going to use their magical powers to put out a fun horror film?” went though my mind, and thankfully these guys got the horror formula down for the most part.
The story calls for every cliché there is in the horror cookbook, and frankly I really did not mind that. We all know what happens when someone takes a “shortcut” in a horror film, and this one was cool to watch because we were given a group of people who take a walking shortcut, not the usual driving shortcuts we get in those “backwoods killer” flicks. The plot is simple, and we are given some contrasting characters to help add some spice to the mix. We get the usual dorky best friend, the ballsy girl(who isn’t ballsy when it matters most), the jock, and a pretty deranged killer as well. The character interactions were fun, and often came with a bit of humor here and there, which is only expected in a campy horror film, especially one from the Happy Madison dudes. We get a few twists and turns in the end, one of which I guessed would happen, and another that came out of nowhere. Nicely done.
Fans of Grandma’s Boy should be elated to see that this film comes to us directed by Grandma’s Boy director Nicholaus Goossen. The visuals and camerawork in this film are well done, and he got believable performances out of his acting staff. The soundtrack/score is cool, and for a PG-13 film he did a fine job with the horror we were given. Naturally a PG-13 film is going to suffer some setbacks, but we got enough of the “goodz” for me not to balk at that too much. I really liked the mystery element involved, and the usage of the killer as well. Good execution added some fair tension scenes in regards to those elements, and in the end this flick did enough to get away with a borderline-positive rating.
Overall, this is an OK campy watch from the guys at Happy Madison which shows they know how to use the horror template, but this flick’s PG-13 rating ultimately kept it from being anything great. If you have nothing better to do and would like to see how the Happy Madison guys do horror then this is worth a watch.