Urban Legends: Final Cut (2000)
Urban Legends: Final Cut (2000)

Genre: Slasher Running Time: 1 hr. 37 min.

Release Date: September 22nd, 2000 MPAA Rating: R

Director: John Ottman Actors: Jennifer Morrison, Matthew Davis, Hart Bochner, Loretta Devine, Joseph Lawrence, Anson Mount, Eva Mendes, Jessica Cauffiel, Anthony Anderson, Michael Bacall, Marco Hofschneider, Jacinda Barrett

 


 

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n a turbulent flight, Libby (Jeannette Sousa) worries about the possibility of a gremlin on the wing of the plane, while a horny couple make their way to the bathroom to join the Mile High Club. And then, suddenly, the craft makes a sharp descent, revealing a killer with a butcher knife stabbing all of the passengers and pilots. “Cut!”

As it turns out, the whole scenario is merely a piece of a student film, being made during the spring semester in the film department at Alpine University – touted as the greatest film school in the country. Sometime later, Professor Solomon (Hart Bochner) reminds the students that they haven’t all turned in their screenplays, which compete for the prestigious Hitchcock Award that promises thousands of dollars in prize money and a significant shot at making it big in Hollywood. Amy Mayfield (Jennifer Morrison) is one such aspiring student, who can’t seem to think up a good story for her thesis film. But when she talks to security guard Reese (Loretta Devine), who mentions the plot of “Urban Legend” (she’s the only returning character), Amy decides upon her final project.

While this is supposed to be a sequel to the original film from 1998, it’s essentially a continuation of the primary concept only, and not a follow-up to the characters or situations. It’s once again just a series of murders that mimic urban legends. And with a sizable cast of teenagers at the school – including moody director Toby (Anson Mount), hunk director Travis Stark (Matthew Davis), boom girl Vanessa Valdeon (Eva Mendes), actress Sandra (Jessica Cauffiel), actor Graham Manning (Joseph Lawrence), film nerds Dirk (Michael Bacall) and Stan (Anthony Anderson), director of photography Simon (Marco Hofschneider), and a wealth of other cinematographers, production assistants, and wannabe thespians – there are plenty of possible culprits. And, sure enough, students steadily begin to succumb to untimely demises, cutting down the efficiency of ongoing productions.

Although a few appropriately mirthful conversations arise, such as one in which George Lucas is cursed after a props-and-makeup versus digital debate, and one in which pitiful acting is mocked (as well as brief commentary on Truffaut and Godard), the film has a tremendously difficult time taking itself seriously. There are plenty of jump scares and gruesome violence, but even when victims absorb stabs or bludgeons or have fresh wounds torn open, there’s a streak of humor running through the assaults. When behaviors are goofy, it’s difficult to appreciate the horror.

Perhaps this is the point, however, as “Urban Legends: Final Cut” is definitely not trying to avoid a horror-comedy classification. In many ways, it’s an extension of the insincere tone devised in the “Scream” movies. Unfortunately, the mystery is no longer all that absorbing – and the slasher genre itself is growing rather stale. Less than halfway through, the urban legend killings aren’t even familiar; it’s little more than a black-cloaked stalker chasing after the pretty blonde. At least it uses the very tropes that it aims to exploit, such as disbelieving authority figures, capture and confinement, duality, disappearances, lengthy pursuits, nightmare sequences, “wrong men,” and more. Plus, the many flights from armed pursuers utilize impressive sets, even if they’re over-the-top and make little sense from a continuity standpoint. And the finale is completely absurd, becoming downright comical (laugh-out-loud funny at times, which it surely wasn’t going for) and unoriginal (bizarrely derivative of the obscure “D.O.A.” from 1988); but it’s good for a few laughs.

– Mike Massie

  • 3/10