Urban Legends, Final Cut

Seen it all before. Amy (Morrison) alerts security officer Reese (Divine) to the fact that something is amiss in film school...
dir John Ottman
scr Paul Harris Boardman, Scott Derrickson
with Jennifer Morrison, Matthew Davis, Joseph Lawrence, Hart Bochner, Loretta Divine, Marco Hofschneider, Anson Mount, Eva Mendes, Jessica Cauffiel, Anthony Anderson, Michael Bacall, Derek Aasland
Columbia 00/US 3 out of 5 stars
Review by Rich Cline
Thankfully this is only a sequel by the most tenuous link--one character (Divine's sassy security guard) refers once to the earlier events. Where Urban Legends was an unoriginal, unimaginative thriller, Urban Legends, Final Cut is a much more gleeful take on the genre, although with its films-within-the-film motif it's dangerously close to Scream 3 in wink-wink self-awareness.

This time we're at film school, where young wannabe directors are at each others' throats for the coveted Hitchcock Prize, which virtually guarantees the winner a Hollywood career (nice joke there!). The lovely Amy (Morrison) is the leading contender, even though her film is about a serial killer who bases his murders on urban legends. Her competition includes the thoughtful, artistic, hunky Travis (Davis); the in-yer-face stud Toby (Mount), also making a thriller; and the arrogant second-generation filmmaker Graham (Lawrence, mercifully against type). So when the cast and crew start dropping like flies, who's the most likely suspect?

Director-editor-composer Ottman (who also edited The Usual Suspects) directs the film with a real sense of fun, spinning off of the moviemaking theme with clever visuals and drawing on the script's constant references to film studies. This makes it absolutely hilarious to anyone with even a passing knowledge of cinema. And the continuous comedy more than makes up for the usual boneheaded plotline, in which logic is jettisoned freely so characters can stupidly roam alone around abandoned buildings and creepy film sets, despite the fact that there's a killer on the loose. The cast is great fun as well, diving into their roles and playing off expectations to come up with something a bit interesting. Especially good value are Hofschneider's snooty Euro-trash cinematographer, Bochner's fed-up prof and Cauffiel's scream-queen. In other words, this is pleasantly much less insulting than most films in the genre ... and far more entertaining than it has any right to be after its dire predecessor.

[15--themes, violence, language] 9.Oct.00
US release 22.Sep.00; UK release 1.Dec.00

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2000 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall