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Scary Madison’s The Shortcut

I’m sure everyone reading this is familiar with Adam Sandler. You may also be familiar with his production studio Happy Madison, makers of such flicks as Deuce Bigelow, Joe Dirt, Dickie Roberts, 50 First Dates, and Grown Ups. The studio is also responsible for television shows like Rules of Engagement and The Goldbergs. Needless to say, it’s a very profitable company.

In 2009, the studio released Funny People and Paul Blart Mall Cop, both of which you’ve probably heard of. What you may not have heard of in 2009 was The Shortcut, produced by a subsidiary of Happy Madison called Scary Madison, which was aimed at producing horror movies. To this date, The Shortcut is the only release under the Scary Madison label.

Co-written by Adam Sandler’s brother Scott Sandler and directed by Nicholaus Goosen of Grandma’s Boy fame, The Shortcut is a million-dollar budget horror film starring Andrew Seeley (High School Musical), Shannon Woodward (Raising Hope), Dave Franco (21 Jump Street), and Katrina Bowden (Tucker and Dale vs. Evil). Being a fan of Shannon Woodward and Katrina Bowden, this film has been on my radar for a few years. Once I discovered its strange connection to Adam Sandler, I made it a priority to see.

Apparently, the film had some production issues. The co-writer writer Dan Hannon recalled seeing his screenplay being “rewritten fifty million times” by other writers prior to production. Then came the financiers who would only put up the money if the R rated screenplay was shot PG-13. The film was forced to shoot in Canada due to limited finances and the area they shot in only offered two hours of night each day, so that made shooting night scenes quite difficult.

Nonetheless, the movie was made and well… it wasn’t quite what I was expected. Tubi (where I watched it) presents it in 4:3 although some DVD reviews I’ve found mentioned it was released in 2:35:1. I’m not sure why the full screen version is on Tubi, but I grew up with that format so definitely not a deal breaker.

The film does not look great. In fact, considering the pedigree of the cast and the director, I was expecting a much higher budget production. There are some nice tracking shots, but the film feels like it was made for a million dollars, which it was.

Shannon Woodward is always fantastic and the rest of the cast comes across genuine and believable in their roles. I was happy to see Raymond J. Barry (who was wonderful as Arlo Givens in Justified) show up in this film, he brought a certain mood to his character which I enjoyed.

The Shortcut is not bad. It’s definitely not good, but it’s very mediocre and comes across as kind of a steppingstone into slashers. I could see showing a young preteen this film to prepare them for Halloween. It would fit nicely between Are You Afraid of the Dark and Friday the 13th. I honestly would have turned it off had it not been for the interesting production history and well… I hate that this was Scary Madison’s only production. I was really hoping to see something with a bit higher of a budget and an R rating. But Adam Sandler’s foray into low budget horror began and ended with The Shortcut and that’ll be its most interesting anecdote in the history of horror.

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