"Every journey has its road and every road, sooner or later, comes to a crossing, a sudden juncture and only one choice to make". Five British teens are on a school trip in Italy when an obstruction causes them to back up and take a shortcut through the woods. Directed by Alessio Liguori and written by Daniele Cosci (who previously worked together on In the Trap), Shortcut is a film about the choices we make and the decisions that come back to haunt us for the rest of our lives.
Cinematically, Shortcut is quite striking. Liguori made beautiful use of light and colour, evident immediately in the juxtaposition of a little yellow raincoat against the fallen leaves and then the little red school bus against the green forest. The score throughout the opening credits sets the scene for what is to come and we know immediately that this is not a tale with a happy ending for all.
If you've not read the synopsis for the film, Shortcut will surprise you. It seems to go in one hair-raising direction before going in another darker, altogether more terrifying direction. I won't spoil it for you if you don't know, but I was quite thrilled with this sudden genre-bending change.
Ultimately, Shortcut is about five teens put in an unprecedented situation in which they must fight for survival. Cosci wrote five distinct personalities, each with their own character traits and issues to overcome, and the young cast excelled in bringing them to light. Jack Kane and Sophie Jane Oliver showed great chemistry as Nolan and Bess, while Zac Sutcliffe and newcomer Molly Dew showed great range as outsiders-to-heroes Reggie and Queenie. My only complaint was that the film relied a little too heavily on fat-shaming but Zander Emlano did a great job of adding gravity and bravery to the character of Karl.
Was it scary? Shortcut is gory and quite a thrilling caper but not particularly scary. Nevertheless, it's visual candy, has good performances and was a lot of fun.
I give Shortcut (2020) three out of five stars. The visuals, red herring, use of music and acting each earn a star but sadly the fat-shaming takes one away again.