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Directed by Alessio Liguori
Written by Daniele Cosci
Starring Jack Kane, Andrei Claude, Zak Sutcliffe, Terence Anderson, Sophie Jane Oliver, David Keyes, Zander Emlano, Teo Achille Caprio, Molly Dew, Raffaele Buranelli, Emma Giua, Matteo De Gregori, Mino Caprio
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SHORTCUT is reminiscent of the Amblin films of old but modern enough to still cause its share of chills and thrills.
A group of teenagers are making their way through the countryside after a school outing. When the road is obstructed, the bus driver decides to take a shortcut through a heavily forested area that is off the map. After getting lost, the group run afoul of an escaped convict with a gun and something even more deadly in the dark of the woods around them.
Amblin-esque is code for a group of kids on their own against a very real and terrible danger. These Spielbergian films such as E.T., EXPLORERS, GOONIES, THE MONSTER SQUAD, and the like, somehow managed to put a cast of kids in extreme peril. None of them really dies or gets maimed, but the danger nevertheless feels more sophisticated than your usual kiddie flick. These were films that not only the kids loved, but they were well made enough for the parents to love it too. SHORTCUT definitely follows that pattern. While there might be a bit of harsh language and some gore here and there, for the most part, this is a film that I believe a family looking to watch a horror movie together might enjoy. If you’re a hardcore horror fan, this one isn’t really going to have the teeth to please. But if you’re looking to indoctrinate your young one into the horror genre, this one will do the trick.
The main reason for this is that the kids starring in this one are decent actors, all written interestingly enough to become invested. There’s a Chunk=style kid with a loud mouth and a glandular problem. There’s the nerdy Velma-style brainiac with glasses. There’s the misunderstood rebel kid with the heart of gold. And then there are the main two kids who are destined to be couple when they’re a little bit older. All of the young actors playing these common tropes are solid and really help with the watchability of SHORTCUT.
The plot itself is less than original and really doesn’t make a lot of sense. Something about a hidden bunker, military science experiments, and nocturnal monsters. The monster is not the greatest, but it is a practical costume/man in suit type deal and director Alessio Liguori seems to know it doesn’t look the best, so most of it is showcased in shadow and quick clips. Still, the monster is rough looking and one of the main weaknesses of the film itself. But despite these setbacks, I found myself rooting for this gang of likable kids to beat the stuffing out of the monster in the end.
SHORTCUT is not grand cinema, but it’s a fun timewaster with a solid cast.