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
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