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Urban Legends: Final Cut

movie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Urban Legends: Final Cut

Starring: Joey Lawrence, Jennifer Morrison
Director: John Ottman
Rated: R
RunTime: 100 Minutes
Release Date: September 2000
Genres: Horror, Suspense

*Also starring: Matthew Davis, Anthony Anderson, Hart Bochner, Loretta Devine, Anson Mount

Review by MrBrown
1½ stars out of 4

The original _Urban_Legend_ grossed only $38 million at U.S. theatres in the fall of 1998, but given how cheaply (in _every_ conceivable meaning of the word) that horror flick was produced, a profit was inevitable--and, of course, a sequel. However, _Urban_Legends:_Final_Cut_ is less sequel than very loose spinoff--a good thing, considering how abysmally ludicrous the original was. But to say that the new film is a step above its predecessor isn't saying much at all, for _Final_Cut_ simply takes a more tolerable approach to the same sort of slasher silliness.

_UL2_ (as the title initially appears onscreen) marks the feature directorial debut of film virtuoso John Ottman, who has already made a name for himself as a score composer and film editor (two positions he once again holds here in addition to the directing reins); his contributions are what elevate the film above the original. His most savvy move was the casting of unknown Jennifer Morrison, who does a much more capable job in the lead than the unimpressive Alicia Witt in the first film. Morrison is likable and convincing as Amy, one of a number of student filmmakers at Alpine University vying for the prestigious Hitchcock Award for best thesis film--which, we are repeatedly told, "guarantees a career in Hollywood."

With that preposterous plot point, writers Scott Derrickson and Paul Harris Boardman immediately throw all story plausibility out the window--long before various co-eds get bumped off by a mysterious stranger wearing a fencing mask. Of course, all these students are all in the running for the Hitchcock, and presumably the masked murderer is killing to get his or her hands on the award and that coveted career.

Much to Ottman's credit, the requisite scare sequences are refreshingly light on the cheap fakeout (which was plentiful in _UL1_), and they are done with a reasonable sense of style and some dark, cheeky humor; this is especially the case with the first major murder scene, which begins with a riff on the "kidney heist" urban legend. However, though the film is called _Urban_Legends_, this is the only concrete reference to that idea. Amy's thesis film is supposed about an urban legend killer (namely, the story of the first film), but all the "legends" are invented ones. And the one major tie to _UL1_, the character of security guard Reese (Loretta Devine, again wasted), adds nothing to the mix.

Which begs the question--why even make this film as an _Urban_Legend_ sequel? The answer is simple: without the tangential ties to the first film, _UL2_ would too obviously be a low-rent version of the also moviemaking-themed _Scream_3_. Ottman does what he can to make this bad idea work (there are some stylishly edited visuals, and his score is up to his standards), but ultimately he and the actors--excepting _Blossom_ alum Joey (I refuse to call him by his new, official moniker of "Joseph") Lawrence, whose work is dreadful all around--must go down the path laid down by the writers, and the course they have mapped out is not pretty.

The subtitle of _Urban_Legends_, _Final_Cut_, is meant to be a play on words referring to filmmaking and the slice-and-dice killings, but one can only hope it also means something else--that this is the final lame-o youth horror film we see in a very long time.

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