One of my favorite new-ish horror movies is The Shortcut from Happy Madison productions (Although it’s called Scary Madison in the credits. I guess they use that title for horror/thriller movies).
While I likely would have been interested in this movie based on its own merits, the main reason I sought it out was because it starred Drew Seeley.
The reason I know and love Drew is because he was the singing voice for Troy Bolton in High School Musical and played the role in the concert tour.
The movie also stars Shannon Woodward, Katrina Bowden of 30 Rock, and Dave Franco of Scrubs.
One of the main reasons I loved the movie was because it was unexpected. I don’t want to give away any of the secrets because they’re just too enjoyable and if you do see the movie I want you to enjoy the ride. In fact, forget I even said there were surprises because then you’ll just be looking for them and ruin the experience for yourself.
And it really is a good experience to have.
The movie spends a good deal of time with the characters in their average settings: at school, hanging out at work, goofing off at home, and it’s time very well-spent. The smaller cast gives the audience a chance to get to know the characters and care about them and their relationships. It’s not like one of the Friday the 13th movie where there’s just a parade of [actors in their mid-to-late 20’s playing] teenagers heading into the woods for the sake of having sex, doing drugs, and getting killed. In this movie the characters are actually characters, not just meat for the slaughter (in fact a great blog I once read referred to the opening scenes of all F13 movies as “Meet the Meat”. I’ll have to try to locate that blog again. If you know it tell me in a comment, please!) and I love that. I love that in any piece of entertainment, but I really appreciate it in horror movies where it’s not usually expected.
The characters aren’t necessarily spectacular or riveting, but they are realistic and interesting and the audience can invest in them, and as I’ve said before, that is key to a good horror story in my eyes.
Since I said I don’t want to spoil any of the story, I’ll just give you the bare bones of it. Derek (Drew Seeley’s character) moves to his Grandma’s town with his mom and little brother. He is able to make a few friends fairly easily but his younger brother is not as lucky and is goaded into taking the town’s legendary shortcut through the woods to impress some classmates. He finds a disemboweled dog along the way and tells Derek about the old man who chased him away from the carcass. Derek wants to confront the man for scaring his brother but his friends are dead set against him investigating the shortcut and man they’ve heard stories about all their lives.
One of Derek’s classmates, however, is missing his dog and wants to see if this man is the one responsible for its disappearance so with his help Derek and his friends explore the shortcut and the man’s house.
Things don’t go too well for these meddling kids.
If I’ve piqued your interest with this little review I highly urge you to check out this movie. It’s very enjoyable and is, in my opinion, a fairly unique contemporary horror movie. It’s not trying to be Saw with excessive gore; it’s not capitalizing on any zombie, vampire, or werewolf craze; it’s not shot with a steadycam to feel “realistic”; it’s just a well-told tale of suspense and fright, with solid performances all-around.