The 1998 slasher film “Urban Legend” was based on the admittedly very cool premise of a serial killer who murders people based on common urban myths — stories that supposedly happened to “a friend of a friend,” but that never actually occurred anywhere.
In this day of Internet-fueled false warnings about non-existent dangers (Look out for guys who hide under your car and slash your ankles when you arrive!), a movie about them was a great idea.
Unfortunately, “Urban Legend” sucked, partly because it ran out of good urban legends to use and had to start making them up, and also partly because it eventually turned into just another teen horror flick.
“Urban Legends: Final Cut” doesn’t “eventually” turn out bad. It starts bad, is bad in the middle, has some more badness near the end, and then erupts into a grand finale of badness so bad it makes other bad things look good.
The first film made $38 million — respectable, but hardly crying for a sequel. Yet here it is, an unrequested sequel that is slow-paced, dim-witted, amateurish, unoriginal and unnecessarily gruesome.
Remember the characters from the first movie? Of course you don’t, and don’t pretend you do. It doesn’t matter, because the only one returning in the sequel is the sassy black campus security officer, Reese (Loretta Devine), who got fired from the college where all the murders happened in the first movie, and now works at a different one.
She meets up with film student Amy Mayfield (Jennifer Morrison), who is looking for a good idea for a final-project movie. Reese suggests she do one about a serial killer who murders people based on common urban myths. Amy likes the idea, and department head Professor Solomon (Hart Bochner) approves it.
(Does this sound like the “Scream” sequels, where they were making a movie about what happened in the first “Scream” film? It should, but remember one important difference: The “Scream” movies were funny, scary and clever. Those three words should not be spoken in the presence of “Urban Legends: Final Cut.”)
Wouldn’t you know it, though, people start getting killed. Once or twice, these murders are based on urban legends. Mostly, they’re just plain old killings. Some of them are people connected with the movie Amy’s making; others are people tangentially related.
So who’s the murderer? Is it rival student director Toby (Anson Mount)? Lesbian Vanessa (Eva Mendez)? Egotistical “film brat” Graham (Joey Lawrence)? Weird foreigner with stupid accent Simon (Marco Hofschneider)? Guy who died but has a twin brother who looks exactly like him, a character I wish I were making up but I’m not (Matthew Davis)? Reese? The professor? Mary Ann? Ginger? Gilligan? Chief? McCloud?
The revelation of the killer is indeed a surprise, but only because his or her identity and motives are so ridiculous that only a lunatic could have predicted them.
With the possible exception of the mildly memorable Reese, there are no real characters here. In fact, it’s hard to tell one from the other for quite a while, until you’ve worked out which stock personalities (if any) have been assigned to which stock characters.
First-time director John Ottman has no sense of pacing or plot. Ideas are started and then abandoned. Characters disappear for a long time and then turn up again. The movie meanders for a while, and when you think it’s over, it still has a half-hour left. There is no building to a climax, because there is no climax. It could end at any point and be just as “over” as it will ever be. Finally, we learn who the killer is, we don’t care, and the movie finally stops hurting us.
F (; )