|Urban Legends: Final Cut (2000)
|Paul Harris Boardman and Scott Derrickson
|Jennifer Morrison, Matthew Davis, Hart Bochner, Loretta Devine, Joseph Lawrence, Anson Mount, Eva Mendes, Jessica Cauffiel, Anthony Anderson, Michael Bacall and Marco Hofschneider
“That only works in the movies…Idiot!” – Killer
At Alpine University the film students are competing for the coveted Hitchcock award. Ace student Travis (Davis) is considered the likeliest to win but fellow student Amy (Morrison) impresses Professor Solomon (Bochner) with her idea of doing a horror short based on urban legends. Soon the students of Alpine start turning up dead and just maybe someone wants the Hitchcock award badly enough to kill for it.
Some time ago I had the idea for my blog of doing a series of reviews for maligned second instalments that I have a soft spot for. There are quite a few of them…”Howling II: Your Sister is a Werewolf” (1985), “Exorcist II: The Heretic” (1977), “A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge” (1985), “Damien: Omen II” (1978), “Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings” (1994) and “Return of the Living Dead Part II” (1988) to name some. While I haven’t yet systematically started viewing them I did however pop in “Urban Legends: Final Cut” for a second go-around the other day and I think quite highly of it despite it getting mostly trashed when it came out.
It was director John Ottman’s first and, to this day, last feature film and a sequel to the hit “Urban Legend” (1998). Known mainly as a composer but taking a stab at directing here; I’m quite impressed with his staging of set-pieces and handling of chase sequences. The film omits the original’s motif for setting up kills according to urban legends (apart from the first kill) and is therefore saddled with conventional set ups for mayhem. The all important kill sequences are very well realized and one even throws in a clever nod to Michael Powell’s “Peeping Tom” (1960). Ottman delivers a suitably creepy atmosphere and excels in at least two chase sequences where the killer is after Amy but she manages to elude him. These kinds of scenes are present in pretty much every slasher but they’re very well done here with quite a bit of visual flair and a good music score which is also supplied by Ottman.
Story wise the film is more than agreeable with the setting being another university and here focusing on film students. Characterization is fairly generic but Amy is a solid lead and the rest of the bunch rise above cardboard slaughter fodder. While it’s not as far reaching in it’s kill setups as the original it does require a similar level of suspension of disbelief as the script exercises a few convenient turn of events to suit the story. Although it doesn’t have the similar snappy ideas as the original when it comes to the dispatching of it’s characters the film nevertheless incorporates the urban legends ideology well enough and avoids being a repeat on the concept. Sadly, though, it kind of unravels in the end but not enough to ruin the whole experience and it has one ending too many before wrapping up with nice nod to the original.
Morrison does fine as Amy, Anderson and Bacall provide some decent comic relief as special effects nerds, Hofschneider is fun as a cocky DP and Mendes is good as an assistant. I wish Bochner had had a bigger role but he’s always a reliable performer and does well here. Devine is also great fun as the security guard on campus and is the only real link to the original.
While “Urban Legends: Final Cut” is a long way away from being considered a neglected gem it is a solid sequel to the smash hit original and not deserving of the critical beating it took.