Linda Cook review: ‘Shortcut’ is old-school British horror

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“Shortcut” is old-school in a good way.

Set in England, its nifty cinematography and no-frills approach are a welcome relief to those exhausted by screens brimming with pulse-pounding, loud CGI-driven action.

It reminds me a little of one of my favorite and too-little seen horror movies “Attack the Block,” which takes a similar approach to its scares. It’s also reminiscent of 1970s drive-in fare. If you’re looking for some sort of a message, you probably won’t find it in this film that’s well-timed for a pre-Halloween outing.

In this movie whose ancestry includes “The Breakfast Club,” we meet a group of British teenagers traveling in a school bus. While they make their way through the countryside, their bus driver encounters some challenges to their travel – and some are pretty grisly.
The group discusses an upcoming lunar eclipse, which may have a connection to the havoc that ensues later.

Reggie (Zak Sutcliffe) is a loudmouthed fighter. There’s a nerdy kid named Karl (Zander Emlano) and a smart girl, Queenie (Molly Dew) who is stumped by the bus driver’s riddle (viewers learn the answer at the end, of course.)

The goodnatured driver Joseph (Terence Anderson, “Captain Phillips) decides to take a shortcut when he finds a blocked road. The kids constantly bicker and show off, but Joseph just smiles and shakes his head.

Although this isn’t anything particularly new, it’s popcorn fun to discover the kids face more than one menace and of course must work together and ignore their differences in order to survive. I’m sure you saw that coming right away, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth seeing.

The effects are done with shadow and costumes rather than the special effects American audiences are used to – I found this approach to be low-key and endearing. A couple of the most interesting scares are when the kids are frightened by something they can’t see.

It’s a movie that never overstays its welcome – a nice outing for horror fans.

3 out of 4 stars

Unrated, but similar to an “R” for brief gore and foul language.

Running time: A compact 80 minutes.

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