When Adam Sandler's Happy Madison production house announced they were forming a horror studio under the oh-so-clever guise of Scary Madison, I and every other horror fan old enough to ace a middle school reading comprehension test thought to themselves, "No good can come of this." Their first at bat would bring to the plate The Shortcut, written by first timers Dan Hannon and Scott Sandler and directed by Nicholaus Goossen, the man responsible for the cold sore upon cinema that is Grandma's Boy.

We all know the saying, "Don't judge a book by its cover," but I'm not a subscriber. The cover is part of the experience as well, be it book, film, or The Shortcut. People that wholly ignore a cover are discounting the art behind capturing the essence of a work and distilling it into an attractive, communicative tableau. Even if what is contained therein is complete crap, I still have respect for the bluff, for the marketer who can pour cough syrup over one's common sense and lull in a purchase with a nice bit of creative misdirection.

Which brings us to the DVD cover art for The Shortcut found by way of Dread Central. You know what? I was wrong about Scary Madison. What this cover art represents is scary. Someone thought this was a good idea. Just think about that for a second. There is nothing attractive or creative about it, but it sure is communicating something. And no, it isn't simply that it looks like it was made by the same person who did the equally bland cover for Somebody Help Me.

Before moving on let me note that I now hate myself for knowing straight to DVD movies so well that I can find reference points for other awful covers.

No one in the movie has a soul.
The cast is comprised of eidolons summoned forth from the bowels of the CW. Recognize anyone? No? Of course not, it's The Shortcut we're talking about, and yet they are all vaguely recognizable. The girl on the left might even be a chimera of Hayden Panettiere and Christine Taylor. Point is they're generic enough to exist in the nether world between Tip of Your Tongue and Who Is That.

Notice the two guys, I bet they play on Varsity.
You can tell the one on the left is the tough one because his chin is slightly pointed upwards, the default defensive stance all high school males go into when someone parks too close to daddy's Benz. The one on the right, he's the tender one. You can tell because he has a necklace and looks like the kind of gentleman who will sneak the second girl through the woods, as seen below their torsos, before putting the roofie in her cup.

Some urban legends are real.
No, not all of them, just some of them. Maybe even this one, who knows. That tagline is the type of vague threat one should never associate with a horror movie. I know you're all new to the neighborhood, Scary Madison, but our genre is not one of timidness. Horror requires inyourfaceocity, not ambiguity. Oh, sorry, didn't notice the exclamation point at the end. They're not messing around, guys!

The ghost of Photoshop past.
Look just above the tender guy's shoulder (click over to DVD Active if you need a bigger look). No, he doesn't have a hunchback and a third ear growing out of his neck, though that could make me actually want to see The Shortcut. No, that's called a Photoshop Flub. Someone forgot to lower the transparency on a layer to 0% and so we get to see a ghost from whatever production still/American Eagle catalog tender guy's head was cropped from. But it's cool, I'm sure someone at Anchor Bay will notice before the red carpet premiere straight to your local Best Buy on September 29th. A movie like The Shortcut screams quality control, after all.
categories Dvds, Horror