Rated R - Running Time: 1:40 - Released 9/22/00

Although the producers of Urban Legends: Final Cut seem to be passing it off as a quasi-sequel to their 1998 horror film Urban Legend, I get the impression that they're just trying to capitalize on name recognition by recycling their previous title and grafting it onto a separate vehicle. Apart from one returning minor character and a few cursory references, there is no correlation between the two. Unless you want to count the fact that they're both really, really bad.

While the 1998 film was a clever concept given a mediocre-at-best treatment (a serial killer who bases all of his crimes on urban legends), Final Cut simply uses the idea as a sidebar to a standard slasher plot. Written by newcomers Paul Harris Boardman and Scott Derrickson and directed by composer/editor John Ottman on his freshman outing behind the camera, Final Cut takes place at the prestigious Orson Welles Film School, where film student Amy Mayfield (Jennifer Morrison) is planning to produce a movie like Urban Legend for her thesis project. At the academy, the "Hitchcock Award" is given to the top production each year, and with it comes a $15,000 stipend and a shot at the big time. Since many former students at the school have gone on to successful careers after winning the coveted award, it sparks great competition between Amy and her classmates Toby (Anson Mount), Graham (Joseph Lawrence), and Travis (Matthew Davis), who's considered the favorite.

When Amy begins production, the students participating in her project begin dropping like flies. Her lead actress (Jessica Cauffiel), her director of photography (Marco Hofschneider), and her special effects guys (Anthony Anderson and Michael Bacall) all enjoy the sweet release of death before she gets the idea that her whole production crew, including herself, is scheduled to go down. As usual, we are treated to numerous sinister camera angles and lame plot contrivances to suggest the guilt of just about everyone in the movie, including all of Amy's award competition and even the campus cop (Loretta Devine). For those who enjoy playing the guessing game, I will not reveal who the fencing-masked killer is; besides, the answer is far too absurd to discuss.

This film starts with a horror scene on board a jet liner, featuring some truly malodorous acting; we then discover that it is only a filming project in process and the acting is bad "on purpose." I presume this intentionally schlocky start is director Ottman's attempt to make the rest of the film look good by comparison; however, it serves only to give us a sample of the bad acting that is to follow. One particularly stupid plot element is the appearance of a slain character's long lost brother (played by the same actor, of course), whom no one knew existed, but who instantly joins up with the gang, trying to help solve the murders, looking the same, acting the same, and even shaving the same as his dead sib. You know the writers are running out of ideas when the forgotten twin shows up.

On the plus side, director Ottman has included numerous shots of the college rowing teams practicing (the film was reportedly shot at Trent University in Ontario, Canada), which has nothing to do with the plot, but provides a nice scenic break from the otherwise idiotic proceedings. Also, there is a rather interesting action sequence set inside a coal mine-like amusement park ride, with little plastic miners leering ominously at those trapped inside while the killer abounds. Clever, but not nearly enough.

Copyright 2000 by John R. McEwen and The Republican

See Current Reviews | See FilmQuips Archive