Urban Legends: Final Cut (2000) – Film Review

click to purchase URBAN LEGENDS: FINAL CUTWhen I first sat down at the old word processor and tried to write a review of this film, I found that I could barely recollect the details, even though I had attended a screening only a couple weeks previously. I could barely remember anything to say. Then I realized: even that says something about the film – like, maybe, it’s not very memorable.The basic impression I have now of URBAN LEGENDS: FINAL CUT is that it’s very much like the first one, which is to say: not very good. As in the original, the essential effectiveness of urban legends is subverted by the usual slasher movie conventions. It’s as if no one really thinks urban legends are good enough to form the basis of a movie, so they embellish them with typical shock tactics (e.g., the masked killer jumping into frame), and you’re left wondering, “If they don’t like the source material, then why even make the movie?”

The other big problem (and this goes back to the first film, too) is that the murders are not so much a matter of the killer basing his acts on urban legends; instead, the victims (for no real good reason) act in ways that set themselves up to be killed as in an urban legend. It’s pretty goofy, when you stop and think about it (which you’re obviously not supposed to do).

Anyway, the film ultimately abandons the whole urban legend thing and just turns into a standard stalk-and-slash flick. There’s a lot of stuff about student film-making and art imitating life (and vice versa), along with reality versus illusion, but it’s all just window dressing to try to hide the fact that there’s nothing much really going on.

Oh, about that student film-making. This film’s view of college students is as myopic and clichéd as every other bad movie set at college, which is really weird, because several of the filmmakers are themselves film school grads. You’d think they could get the overall feel right, if not the details, but these characters end up acting like every other group of idiots you’ve ever seen on film, and none of them seems to have the brains necessary to pass the entrance exams in the first place.

Other annoying details include the fact that their student productions all seem to have immense budgets for elaborate mechanical and special effects beyond the grasp of most real students. Also, the central plot device (the deaths have something to do with a coveted Hitchcock award) strains credulity: we’re supposed to believe the award is a guaranteed entrée into Hollywood film-making, so much so that someone would kill for it. Come on! Does anyone really think that the suits in Hollywood are going to line up to hire some student because his ten-minute short film won an award? You’d be lucky to get so much as a meeting on this basis, but Urban Legends 2 wants us to think a multi-pic deal is a lock.

Well, my memory banks are running low, but two more items come to mind:

  1. There is one funny moment between some geeky makeup effects guys who insist that their prosthetic effects can yield better results that CGI. Confronted with the fact that their “god George Lucas” doesn’t think so, one blurts out, “Oh yeah? Well…fuck George Lucas!” The flash of guilt across his face, over having insulted his idol is priceless, as is the reaction of his partner, who warns him that he’s going to hell. Funny stuff.
  2. I was really sorry to see Hart Bochner in this movie. He was really good in Apartment Zeroabout ten years previously, and he deserves better than this; unfortunately, I don’t think he’s going to get much opportunity. Here, his looks have changed, making him resemble David Duchovny. I’m sure that’s the way most of this film’s young target audience will see him—as a clone of the guy from X-Files. It’s really too bad—made all the worse by the ridiculous “twist” ending involving him near the end.

URBAN LEGENDS: FINAL CUT(September 2000). Directed by John Ottman. Written by Paul Harris Boardman and Scott Derrickson, based on characters created by Silvio Horta. Cast: Jennifer Morrison, Matthew Davis, Hart Bochner, Loretta Devine, Joseph Lawrence, Anson Mount, Eva Mendes, Anthony anderson, Jessica Cauffiel, Rebecca Gayheart (uncredited).

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About the Author

Steve Biodrowski

Cinefantastique's Los Angeles Correspondent from 1987 to 1993 and West Coast Editor from 1993 to 1999. Currently the webmaster of Cinefantastique Online, I also run a website called Hollywood Gothique that covers Halloween Horror and Sci-Fi Cinema Events in the Los Angeles area.

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