Nicholaus Goossen Talks The Shortcut

Nicholaus Goossen Talks The Shortcut (click for larger image)Even though his first horror film, The Shortcut, is about to hit DVD shelves on September 29th, that doesn’t mean director Nicholaus Goossen is a newcomer to the scene. Goossen has actually been working in Hollywood since he was still in high school.

Goossen grew up in a boxing family surrounded by celebrities but it was the opportunity to work on the set of The Wedding Singer as an intern that ended up being a life-changing experience for him.

The first day I got to set, Adam Sandler walked right up to me and introduced himself,” explained Goossen. “I honestly think it was because I was wearing a basketball jersey and he was looking for someone to play with. We immediately became friends which led to me working on the rest of his films from then on.

After working on a series of Happy Madison (Sandler’s production company) films behind the scenes, Goossen finally got his shot to step behind the camera with the now cult-classic flick Grandma’s Boy.

After he worked on Grandma’s Boy, Goossen learned that Happy Madison was looking to branch out and start making horror/thriller films. It was a decision that the new director was happy to get behind right from the start.

Goossen said, “I am a huge horror fan so I jumped at the chance to finally work in the genre. One of the first movies I ever loved was Poltergeist. I had always wanted to work in horror, so when Scary Madison (a branch of Happy Madison Productions) was created, I was excited to get to direct again and this time to do something different than comedy.

The first film to come out of the Scary Madison production house was The Shortcut. Written by Scott Sandler (brother to Adam) and Dan Hannon, the story centers around two brothers Derek (Andrew Seeley) and Tobey (Nicholas Elia) who move to a small town that is known for its infamous “shortcut” where a bunch of kids went missing a few decades back.

When Tobey is dared to walk the “shortcut” he runs into a sinister man (played by Raymond Barry) who threatens the young boy and tells him to never come back. Derek, playing protective older brother, sets out alongside some of his friends to find out just what the deal is with the old man but they all end up facing something more deadly than a haunted “shortcut.

Goossen loved the story but at first was a bit discouraged to learn that he was going to have to work within the context of a PG-13 rating for the film.

Initially, The Shortcut had a completely different ending but that’s when we thought we’d be shooting an R-rated feature,” explained Goossen. “So there definitely were some challenges in figuring out how we can deliver a good horror movie without all the blood and guts.

I definitely pushed the PG-13 as far as I could in terms of the intensity of the material. I came to realize that I needed to embrace the rating rather than fight it, so it became my quest to create something that would be scary and keep the ratings board happy at the same time,” Goossen added.

Without being able to use excessive gore or even violence, as a director, Goossen had to rely on something else for The Shortcut – the art of storytelling.

The director said, “I wanted our characters to feel real, not just to be two-dimensional. My biggest problem is when you have characters in a film that you can’t even relate to. I wanted their stories to come out so that the audience could feel connected to them so when things start to go wrong and the intensity begins, you want these kids to come through.

A lot of what I wanted to do with the teens was similar to the film Wolf Creek,” Goossen further explained. “In Wolf Creek, you start off learning about the teens and getting involved with them beyond the surface so when the madness starts, you feel the horror right along side them. That was my goal with The Shortcut. I mean, if you don’t really know the characters, then why should you care if they live or die?

So, do the kids live or die? Audiences will have to wait to find out when The Shortcut is released later this month.

Heather Wixson

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