10 June 2011

Movies: The Shortcut

The Shortcut (2009) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1243955/

Low-budget thriller about a particular shortcut through the woods, it's local legendary history, and a recently-moved-to-town high school senior (Derek) and his kid brother (Tobey).

The film starts out establishing the local history - in 1945 a gal and her boyfriend are taking the shortcut after a school dance, the boy gets fresh, the girl knees him in the nads and runs off, she encounters an 8-year old(ish) kid on the path, the kid smacks her in the head with a rock and kills her.
Jump to present day. The school is now an elementary school and the kids dare new kid Tobey to take the shortcut.  Along the way Tobey encounters a disemboweled dead dog. When he goes to poke it with a stick a spooky old guy with gloves and a shovel scares him. Of course Tobey falls fully into the pool of blood around the dog then runs away. When he gets home he looks like he went swimming in the puddle. He tells his older brother Derek about the dog and the spooky old guy. Derek helps him get cleaned up.
Derek tells his smart-ass friend Mark and their friend Lisa. He tells 'em about the dog and the shortcut. They relay more stories about people disappearing along the spooky shortcut, the old dude that owns that land and creeps people out. The shortcut/dog story gets around to a high school jock, who lost his dog, so they all team up to do some Scooby-Dooing to find out of the creepy old guy is behind the dog disappearance.  Oh yeah, there's a hot blonde that Derek is interested in, so he pursues her and invites her along for the sleuthing.

The story is told with interspersed flashbacks to the 40's and 50's, dropping tidbits of history surrounding the family that owns the land.

Yeah - that's a long-summary setup, especially considering the B-movieness of the film.  It's chock full of a mix of bad actors and decent ones. You'll probably recognize Raymond J. Barry (Arlo Givens in Justified) and William B. Davis (Cancer-man from X-Files). The gal playing Lisa, Shannon Woodward, looks familiar but I can't recall watching anything she's been in. There's always the possibility she looks like someone else whose name I can't recall. Regardless, she's cute and actually one of the better actors in the cast.

The overall plot is pretty straightforward, not especially original and has a couple of twisty things at the end.  Acceptable production quality, though there were a few noticeable ADR issues. Not much character depth - just enough to figure out what the standard roles are: hero, wiseass sidekick, girl sidekick nobody is interested in, jock, unattainable blonde hero-love-interest, creepy old dude, dead dog. Also one big glaring historical mistake (fall of 1945, Nazis). A couple amusing one-liners from smartassed friend and Lisa, but some of the cultural references will be dated in a few years. Not much gore for a horror-thriller. Most violence is handled off-screen. It really isn't that great of a film, but not entirely terrible either. More money has been spent on worse films.

Makes an okay Saturday-afternoon middling-to-bad but entertaining enough to be worth it if you're bored horror-movie film.  At PG-13 is probably one of the more family-friendly options as far as horror-thriller flicks go.

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