Urban Legends: Final Cut

Rated R for violence/gore, language, and some sexuality
Running Time: 100 minutes
Directed by John Ottman
Release date: 9/22/2000
Phoenix Films / Sony Pictures Entertainment / Columbia Pictures
Urban Legend came out while the teen horror genre was still enjoying a resurgence thanks to the first two Scream installments and I Know What You Did Last Summer.

Though there have been some mildly entertaining ancillary entries into the field since, like The Faculty and Final Destination, the sequel to IKWYDLS was just plain bad, and the final chapter in the Scream trilogy was fairly perfunctory and should have marked the end of the revival.

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This invariably begs the question, do we really need a sequel to Urban Legend?

The original had a great story idea and is fun to watch in a guilty-pleasure-indulgence kind of way, but the concept-to-script translation could have been better, and the film as a whole would have benefited from better execution.

Following the Laws of The Sequel, Urban Legends: Final Cut will have a bigger, bloodier body count, but suffer from an inferior storyline and weak character development. While most of this holds true, Final Cut is as enjoyable to watch as its predecessor, so long as you’re willing to turn off your brain, ignore continuity, and accept it for what it is – a needless sequel to a slightly above average teen horror movie.

The Plot

Amy Mayfield is a film student at Alpine University, who has decided to make her thesis project about a serial killer whose murders are based upon urban legends. All of the students are competing for the school’s much sought-after Hitchcock award, which virtually guarantees the winner a career in Hollywood.

However, when people start dying on the set and around the campus in accordance with various urban legends, Amy must struggle to find out the truth about the killer without becoming a victim herself.

The Players

Jennifer Morrison does some good work as Amy, but she certainly seems to be above this kind of role.

Though it would seem Amy is bright enough to be a graduating film student, she does a few alarmingly dumb things which are not easily ignored. The short turn Morrison gave in Stir of Echoes was powerful, and I hope she’ll graduate to better stuff than this.

Joseph Lawrence is cast against type as Graham Manning, the obnoxious son of a Hollywood studio executive who must do well at Alpine in order to impress his father and continue the family show business reputation.

While I certainly encourage Joseph to try and move on from his doofy Blossom-spawned image, simply accepting a role as a rude fill-in-the-blank-with-your-expletive-of-choice is not going to get the job done. Not that he’s all that bad, just some things aren’t meant to be, you know?

Matthew Davis is Travis Stark, a talented filmmaker who is well thought of as a director by both the faculty and the student body. Unfortunately, Davis is fairly void of ability, and comes off like a flat cardboard cut-out up on screen. Anson Mount does fine as Toby, a hack director that no one really likes but is forced to put up with, because everyone works on everyone else’s films.

Loretta Devine reprises her Urban Legend role as security guard Reese Wilson, who is quite funny, Pam Grier obsession and all. And I love Hart Bochner as Professor Solomon – hey, the man who played Ellis in Die Hard can do no wrong in my book.

The Pronouncement

While it took me a little bit to get into the movie, the middle third of the film has some good pacing, tension, and action. There are a couple of gaffes (most notably at the beginning), but you’re not dealing with Hitchcock or John Carpenter here.

Director John Ottman doesn’t re-invent the horror film, but he does decent work with some of the scenes, and I enjoyed the ending. The script was not as bad as I expected it to be, the aforementioned gaffes notwithstanding, although they could have done better with some of the casting.

There is one very grisly kill that had me squirming and wiggling in my seat, and I’ve seen more than my share of horror movies and am not in the slightest bit squeamish.

If you’re an accomplished moviegoer whose suspension of disbelief skills are finely honed, you’ll enjoy Urban Legends: Final Cut.

Rating – 3

Though for most horror flicks, the later the show the better, I would advise a matinee or twilight viewing – take the ticket money you save and go see Almost Famous for a double-header.

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