"It was an urban legend that started it all. Now it continues on the Alpine University campus..."
directed by: John Ottman
starring: Jennifer Morrison, Matthew Davis, Joseph Lawrence, Loretta Devine, Eva Mendez, Marco Hofschneider and Hart Bochner.
(back of video blurb):
" It aint out yet!"
"Do you think it's real? Nah, not enough blood...OJ left more blood than that on the Bronco..."
- film students discuss whether a tape they are watching is faked or real!
(review by Joseph Henson)
John Ottman's non-sequel sequel to Urban Legend plays out like a hackneyed Alfred Hitchcock movie - having said that it does tend to get rather creative at times but ultimately fails at generating any real scares or thrills, something the master knew how to handle very well.
At "the greatest film school in the world", students are at each other's throats for the coveted Hitchcock Award, which will not only be a launching pad to Hollywood for the student with the best film thesis, but also a prize of $15,000 to boot! Around every corner, students are rushing against the clock to turn in their work, and it's here where we meet our central characters and their films, the main focus being young Amy (Jennifer Morrison), who is having trouble coming up with an idea. She is walking home from the library one night when the local security guard (the returning Loretta Devine) offers her a ride to her dorm. "I've got an idea for your thesis...it's about a campus serial killer who uses urban legends to murder eight students..." emotes the Foxy Brown lovin' guard and Amy brushes it off as an urban legend, but hey, wouldn't it be a great idea if she used it as her film thesis? She has a little chat with Professor Solomon (the infinitely cool Hart Bochner) who grants her idea as something brilliant. She rounds up her cast and crew and begins filming various legends, including the psycho hiding under the bed, the bodies on an amusement park ride and many others. To put a damper on things, someone dressed in a black trenchcoat wearing a fencing mask begins using Amy's filmed urban legends as a motif for a campus killing spree. Let the mayhem commence!
As a teen slasher movie, Urban Legends: Final Cut manages to work at times, and even pulls off the not-so-impossible feat of outdoing it's predecessor, a film I loathed to the very core. Director John Ottman (who may best be known for his various film scores) has plenty of fun with the genre and attempts to poke fun at the film industry in the process by blurring the lines between fiction and reality. His film even manages to go shades darker than the usual myriad of slasher flicks at times, especially utilizing a "snuff film" plot point, in which most of the murders are caught on film and are watched by the remaining film students. The film's best scene comes near the beginning - the opening murder if you must, which is as gory as they come - the killer uses the old "waking up in a tub of ice missing your kidney" pastiche, and instead of downplaying the gore like this year's Scream 3 (a movie also about film sets, etc), it goes the whole nine yards by having the female victim attempting to escape - the killer pulling her through a half-opened window by her wound, which spits out the red stuff like a fountain, and as a grand capper, the window is busted and slammed down on the girl's neck - and yet, it goes on - the kidney is thrown out the window for a vicious dog to chow down on. It's just too bad this scene, like alot of the early 80's openers, has absolutely NOTHING to do with the rest of the murder spree that goes down.
And it's various plot holes like that that keeps URBAN LEGENDS: FINAL CUT from becoming a better movie. I really did enjoy it on a 'have fun' level, but I was more than let down that the film's inventiveness is undermined by more holes than Swiss cheese. Not helping matters none is an over abundance of the scooby doo plotline, which I never really mind, but here the film doesn't just use it, it over does it to the point of absurdity. One film student who had his film thesis graded a lot lower than expected commits suicide (or so you think) and luckily there's a twin brother on hand to prove that his brother didn't commit suicide. Like any old fashioned episode of Shaggy and Scooby running around solving mysteries, there's an over abundance of characters to suspect - shady eyes and suspicious glares abound, it becomes more than difficult of keeping track with them, especially since most are only given a few minutes screen time. And it's this that goes in the way for making the revelation of the killer one huge groaner. To be fair it is someone you would never suspect, not in one million years - but that's not a bonus point for the film's whodunit factor, no, they used someone who was only in the movie for a few minutes and gave him a very ridiculous motive that apparently ties in with a small plot point earlier in the film. Had this said plot point been brought out to the open a little more, it might have made a more coherent whole, but as it sits it's confusing and utter silliness at best. One thing I did like, which was very refreshing, was seeing the killer keep his cool under pressure, and not going the same distance as the killer from the first movie (or various other slashers) - usually there's crazy eyes and heads cocked to the left and insane shouting, but here they made the killer seem almost bored, almost as if his plan was going so perfect that there would be no need for shouting matches between him and the final girl.
There's other little moments to like, including excellent camera work from Ottman, a very hilarious spoof of Alfred Hitchcock Presents near the end of the film (which also ties the first film in with the second) and some nominal good acting from the cast - but overall the film's a bit of a mess, which is a shame because I really like Ottman's vision...maybe next time.
BODYCOUNT 8 female:3 / male:5
1) Female decapitated by a broken window
2) Female strangled and hung from a shower(?)
3) Male found dead (apparently from suicide)
4) Male bludgeoned with a flashlight
5) Male electrocuted by fusebox
6) Male has head slammed into another fusebox
7) Female hung from the belltower
8) Male shot in chest