Shortcuts to Hell Vol. 1 Movie Review
Written by Hamzah Sarwar
Released by Movie Mogul
Written and directed by Rick James, Joe Stas, Lloyd Stas, Alex Chandon, Weronika Tofilska, Mikel Iriarte, Dan Auty, Ross Jameson, Ben Kent, Pantelis Hapeshis, Darien Davis, Ben Vokes, Stanislava Buevich, LR Fulford, Oliver Nice, John Carlin, Christopher Kemble, James Card, Mark S Wright, Anthony White, Lee Robinson, Chelsey Burdon, Simon Hare, Dominic Roberts, Debbie Attwell, Martin Wrench & David 'dwyz' Wayman
2013, 78 minutes, Rated 18 (UK)
Released on August 23rd 2013
It was in February 2013 that film production house Movie Mogul, internationally revered festival Frightfest and the iconic Horror Channel launched a daringly original short film competition entitled 666 Shortcuts to Hell. The bold trio laid out six deadly rules for genre film-makers in the UK to abide by when submitting entries. Firstly and perhaps most importantly, the title of the short had to be chosen from one of the following: Sweet 6teen, 6 Shooter, 6th Sense, 6 Seconds to die, 6 degrees of (limb) separation or 6 feet under. Regardless of the title chosen, the budgetary cap was set at £666 and the film could be no longer than three minutes in total. If those rules weren't stringent enough, here's where it really gets tricky. No more than six lines of dialogue were allowed; the short had to be shot in six hours and was limited to six members of cast and crew. The challenge was laid down and accepted by a commendable legion of aspiring auteurs, a fervid array of 157 entries were submitted to be judged by an esteemed panel of six experts (including the likes of Frighfest co-ordinator Paul McEvoy and director Tom Six). 666 Shortcuts to Hell: Volume 1 is a portmanteau collection of 26 of the shortlisted finalist entries.
The traditional shortcoming of any breed of anthology is visibly evident in Volume one, the coercive blend of twenty six conflicting styles doesn't necessarily make for an altogether congenial concoction. The quality varies wildly from one entry to the next. Shortcuts to Hell isn't alone in this trend, from the classic Amicus productions sprawled across the mid-late 20th century such as The House that Dripped Blood (1971) and Asylum (1972) through to the vastly inferior ABCs of Death (2012) there are entries which detract from the momentum and cause lulls to the overall viewing experience. That being said, certain elements of Shortcuts to Hell push boundaries that one didn't even know existed. The contrasting styles in the compendium of assimilated shorts serve as a testament to the wealth of underground talent in the UK, an arena fast becoming one of the most flourishing and vibrant genre hot spots in the world of the macabre. The strength of the collection is driven by its variability, the sheer breadth on offer is courtesy of the six available titles; each alternative offers an avenue into a distinct sub-genre of horror. There are nods to Giallo, themes of possession, zombies and even the horror comic style of Raimi's Evil Dead 2 (1987).
Weronika Tofilska's winning 6 feet under entry delves into a woman's sordidly necrophilic imagination as she falls victim to the allure of a male corpse. The short has a supernatural, ghostly edge which blurs the lines between reality and dream. Contrast that with David Wayman's utterly repulsive 6 shooter where a worm maliciously attacks a group caught up in a drinking game. Ben Kent's demonically possessed Sweet 6teen somehow missed out on the shortlisted six, it is an expert blend of exorcism and found footage which takes a startling turn into violence. Arguably the most memorable short is Mikel Iriarte's giallo inspired Six Degrees of (Limb) Separation, where an Argento-esque pulsating score frames a violent chase.
Shortcuts to Hell: Volume 1 is worth exploring, genre fans will relate to a myriad of disparate themes in the collection. Although frustratingly bought to a standstill by the more obscure entries, the thrilling diversity on offer gives us hope for a bright future.
Video, Audio and Special Features:
Video, audio and special features will not be graded as this was a screener.