(Reader, beware. There are spoilers in this review.)
SHORTCUT feels like something we’ve seen before, but packaged differently. SHORTCUT’s writer, Daniele Cosci, can’t really be blamed; this appears to be a trend with movies these days. Some movies seem to get it right, while others don’t. SHORTCUT wasn’t awful; however, it definitely missed the mark.
To explain the plot, I will rely on the synopsis: “A group of five classmates is trapped inside their school bus after a mysterious creature invades the road. Time runs and every passing minute decreases their survival chances against the constant threats of that unknown entity.”
There were some elements of the story that I found intriguing. However, they felt random and weren’t explored. For instance, it seemed that Reggie (Zak Sutcliffe) may have had supernatural abilities. There was a scene where he seemed to foretell an event. The lights were flickering on the bus, and I wondered whether he may have powers that he was unaware of. Or, in an interesting twist of events, maybe he was somehow connected to the entity, the Night Wanderer. Also, I didn’t really see the point of the escaped convict. Was his job to terrorize the bus before the real entity showed up? These were just a handful of things left unexplained.
A lot goes into making a movie. Yes, the story is a huge part of it. But, there are also other important elements, like the characters and cinematograph. The characters were decent. I would’ve liked a bit more backstory on them, because there had to be a reason why they were the ones on the bus, and also why they (collectively) defeated the entity. Also, the story’s events were pretty cohesive. There were a few flashbacks, which tied into the story well. I would’ve liked it if the “Tongue Gobbler” was introduced before he appeared on the screen.
SHORTCUT was a well-shot movie. I’ll give it that. The picture was crisp and clear. When I think of horror, I think of a fearful villain, suspense, and death. I didn’t experience fear. However, there was suspense. Naturally, there was death. These scenes were tasteful. Some movies go over the top with gore, and it takes away from the story. In this film, we didn’t have to see characters ripped apart to know they were killed. I respected that.
The ending was a bit predictable. In movies with entities, you come to learn that rituals are the only way of anyone making it out alive. Once the students stumbled across the writings and clippings, it became apparent that they were doing to be able to do what people years before them couldn’t. Again, this didn’t make it awful. But, we’ve seen it done before.
In summary, SHORTCUT had potential. There were some promising moments. However, these moments weren’t really explored. I get not reinventing the wheel, especially if something (read: a plot) works. But I would’ve liked to see something a little different with SHORTCUT.
It’s watchable. Nothing to rave about, but certainly not intolerable. I wouldn’t recommend purchasing it or streaming it for the equivalent of a general admission movie ticket. If it’s offered at a matinee price, you’ve watched everything on your watch list, and just want something to watch, consider checking it out. However, be sure to check your expectations at the door!
SHORTCUT is playing at select drive-ins and indoor theatres. You can check the full list of where the film is screening here. The film will be released on VOD and Digital on December 22, 2020, from Gravitas Ventures.