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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 Harvey Karten
No Rating Supplied

The narrative line that informs "Urban Legends: The Final Cut" is so hackneyed, so stale, that even the junior high school kids who were admitted to a special advance screening of this R-rated movie (which has one or two fairly explicit sex scenes and lots of gore) appeared burned out. The three fourteen-year-olds I chatted with on the way out said they'd seen it all before "hey, man lots o' times," they knew the killer would be the person least suspected, they even knew which quick scares were false alarms and which would lead to actual slashings.

The pretensions to Hitchcock that director John Ottman played around with in his directorial debut may have been as over the heads of the tykes in the audience as the master's birds, and when a couple of characters on screen bullied each other with accusations of campus power struggles, the young 'uns in their plush seats simply cried out "Hit him!" without understanding the drift of the controversy. But Hitchcockian birds, towers and intimations of paranoia notwithstanding, isn't it time to close the door on these same ol' same ol' pix? If you've seen 'em twenty times before, they're no longer scary and given the absence of wit in scripters Paul Harris Boardman and Scott Derrickson's dialogue, we look forward with apathy to their upcoming "Hellraiser Inferno" which was commissioned by Dimension Films.

One of the performers, Sandra (Jessica Cauffiel) did turn in one of the few decent comic scenes in the opening twenty minutes of a movie which started out with some promise and then fell into inanity. The big concept in Ottman's film is the notion of life vs. art, specifically, when is an action on the screen part of a film within a film and when is the action a representation of reality? The action takes place on a college campus (surprise!), actually filmed at a place in Ontario, Canada which has some surprisingly vivid architecture. We're in film school where a bunch of 20-year-old aspiring filmmakers are competing for the coveted Hitchcock award, whose attainment would yield $15,000 to the winner and guarantee him or her a Hollywood deal. One person on campus is determined to kill the competition.

Chief among the contenders at Alpine University is Amy Mayfield (Jennifer Morrison), who breaks from her favorite genre of documentaries to try a Hithcockian suspense story for her thesis project. She hires a bunch of unpaid amateurs, proving that you get what you pay for. Her staff includes lesbian Vanessa (Eva Mendes--who gets to knock off one of the film's cutest, if terribly vulgar, one-liners); Simon (Marco Hofschneider), a pretentious, womanizing Continental type; a couple of grossly stereotypical gofers, Stan (Anthony Anderson) and Dirk (Michael Bacall), the specimens whom we know will be killed off around the middle of the story. Travis (Matthew Davis)is chief among the heartthrobs, the one we trust will end up with Amy. As a latex-bearing killer picks off these seniors, in one case removing a girl's kidney before cutting her up some more and guillotining the damsel, we temporarily pick up the brains we checked at the box to figure the identity of the maniac--who looks like a cross between a duellist out of The Count of Monte Cristo and a microphone.

The one arresting part of the film occurs at the very beginning during a stormy airplane ride in which Sandra (Jessica Cauffiel) screams in competition with the roar of the thunder as the plane hurtles toward the earth. Jennifer Morrison, who attempts to anchor the film, is not particularly appealing but she does a reasonable job with what the banal dialogue she's been given.

Copyright 2000 Harvey Karten

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