Urban Legends: Final Cut
At the renowned film school Alpine University, one senior student is awarded the esteemed Hitchcock Award for the best thesis film each year. A down-to-earth documentary film student Amy Mayfield wants to take a crack at the Hitchcock. During a chance meeting with the new campus security guard Reese, Amy is inspired by the story of an urban legend at Reese’s former place of employment, Pendleton University. Deciding to break away from documentaries, Amy’s thesis film will be a work of fiction about urban legends. After writing the script, story boarding the shots and casting her actors, Amy and her crew prepare to roll camera. When Amy’s film crew starts falling prey to fatal “accidents,” she questions where fiction ends and truth begins. When all the dots start to connect back to her, she realizes she must unmask the killer before she becomes an urban legend.
While Urban Legends: Final Cut is not nearly as terrifying or inventive as some of its predecessors, the film does offer up a fairly suspenseful whodunit that fans of the teen horror genre will likely appreciate. Amy Mayfield, the film’s heroine (played by fresh-faced Jennifer Morrison), is the daughter of an Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker trying to make a name for herself at Alpine University, “the greatest film school that ever existed.” Along with several other students she is competing for the coveted Hitchcock award, which virtually guarantees the winner a successful career in Hollywood. When the film school’s resident genius and likely winner of the award is found dead, suspicions arise. As other film students are killed off one by one, everyone becomes a suspect. Would someone kill to win the prestigious award?
While striving to be Hitchcockian in theme (as evidenced by its multiple references to the director himself), the film never quite moves beyond cliché. Many scenes are a little too reminiscent of other popular teen horror flicks like Scream (the anonymous masked killer, though not nearly as frightening), The Blair Witch Project (Amy is chased through desolate woods by her stalker), and Friday the 13th (Amy hides from the killer in a lake setting eerily similar to the one where Jason died so many years ago). These elements seem just a little worn out. Morrison gives a serviceable performance, and Loretta Devine, from the original Urban Legend, adds humor as a Foxy Brown-worshiping security guard. The film manages to keep you guessing until its conclusion, and a sequence set in an abandoned amusement park is truly creepy. But ultimately Urban Legends: Final Cut lacks the originality to make a name for itself among the many films of its genre. —Mindy Ruehmann
Barnes and Noble
What happens when life imitates art—or better yet, your favorite horror movie? This question is pursued in director John Ottman’s follow up to Urban Legend. When the film student attendance at Alpine University seriously wanes during the student production of an Urban Legend-like film, the horror transcends the artistic intentions of student Amy Mayfield (Jennifer Morrison, Stir of Echoes) and moves into real life. After the mysterious suicide of a brilliant student filmmaker Trevor Stark (Matthew Davis, Tigerland), Amy teams up with his equally mysterious twin, Travis (also played by Davis). The students’ quest for the truth takes them down a frightfully tortuous path lined with plenty of blood and guts, until the turn where they realize they can’t trust anyone—not even each other. A teen funhouse of terror with a broad cast, including Joseph Lawrence (TV’s Blossom) and a cameo by Urban Legend’s Rebecca Gayheart, Urban Legends: Final Cut has a sassy script—writers Paul Harris Boardman and Scott Derrickson are film school alums themselves—and, like its predecessor, is filled with nods to film legend, gore, and lore, constantly causing viewers to ask if what they’re seeing is the real deal or is it movie magic. Is it the movie you’re watching or just the movie within it? Find out, if you dare. Patricia Kim O’Cone