Urban Legends: Final Cut Blu-ray Review
Written by ZigZag
Blu-ray released by Scream Factory
Directed by John Ottman
Written by Scott Derrickson and Paul Harris Boardman
2000, 97 minutes, Rated R
Released on November 20th, 2018
Jennifer Morrison as Amy Mayfield
Matthew Davis as Travis/ Trevor Stark
Hart Bochner as Professor Solomon
Loretta Devine as Reese
Joseph Lawrence as Graham Manning
Anson Mount as Toby
Eva Mendes as Vanessa Valdeon
Jessica Cauffiel as Sandra
Anthony Anderson as Stan
Michael Bacall as Dirk
The film school at Alpine University is a highly competitive place with students trying to win the coveted Hitchcock award, a virtual guarantee at a shot to direct a big Hollywood movie. Everyone is putting everything they’ve got into their thesis projects and helping to work on each other’s films. Amy Mayfield is attempting her first narrative piece and is going to shoot a story about a serial killer who uses urban legends as inspiration. Her production is plagued however by an unknown assailant who begins killing her crew off in creative ways. Soon Amy is the primary target and she must elude the murderer long enough to discover his identity.
Sequels are a pretty difficult thing to pull off, especially within the horror genre. Sometimes you get a pale imitation of the original and other times you get something that bears no resemblance to the source outside of the title. There are rare occasions when the new film matches or surpasses the original, but this seldom happens. Sequels have been around for decades and show no signs of fading anytime soon because audiences continue to roll the dice with their dollars hoping to be entertained. The more successful the first movie, the more likely there is studio interference the second time around. In this case, the producers had a lot of input on the script and too many cooks spoiled the broth.
Urban Legends: Final Cut plays with the meta “film within a film” concept and takes place primarily on a series of movie sets. Accomplished composer and editor John Ottman (The Usual Suspects) steps into the director’s chair for this lively spin on the genre and delivers a mostly satisfying picture. There are more clichés this time around and plenty of jump scares that aim to goose audiences, but the hit-to-miss ratio of success is low. Some sequences work really well, like the girl waking up in a tub of ice sans kidney and a lot of the final act moves at a decent clip, but there’s a lot of mediocrity in between. There are several red herrings and other familiar plot devices on hand, but Ottman comes up with some genuine suspense on a few occasions. The script, written by Scott Derrickson (Sinister) and Paul Harris Boardman (The Exorcism of Emily Rose) is ambitious and includes a lot of in-jokes for filmmakers, but suffers in execution.
The cast does a fine job with the material, although many of their roles are underdeveloped and subject to archetyping. Jennifer Morrison (Amityville: The Awakening) stars as Amy, the budding director hoping to win a grant. She is the girl-next-door type with nothing but good intentions, making her a bit of an outsider in her surrounding circle of self-absorbed classmates. Morrison plays the part with an earnestness that is endearing and fills the role of Final Girl with confidence. Matthew Davis (Below) co-stars as twin brothers Travis and Trevor Stark, who may be hero or suspect depending on the scene. Bridging the gap between this film and the original is Loretta Devine (Grey’s Anatomy) as Reese, the security guard with a heart of gold. She remains likeable and is better at doing her job this time around and is a welcome addition to the picture.
The supporting cast is made up of several familiar faces, including Joey Lawrence (Killer Pad), Anson Mount (Hell on Wheels), Eva Mendes (Training Day), Jessica Cauffiel (Valentine) and Anthony Anderson (The Shield) as fellow film students/ suspects, and character actor Hart Bochner (Terror Train) appears as Professor Solomon, the responsible adult in the room. There is a lot of groan-inducing humor that I found annoying, but not enough to tank the picture. The kills are occasionally a bit more graphic this time around without ever becoming gratuitous.
Urban Legends is not really a thriller and isn’t much of a mystery, as there are not any real clues as to who is responsible for the killings. The ending reveal is satisfactory but requires an explanatory monologue. The best part of the movie comes during the closing credits as a final scene injects the picture with the fun that has been absent from the previous ninety minutes. Ottman continues to work as an editor and composer on big studio films, but this remains his sole trip to the director’s chair. The film was successful enough to generate a second sequel, the direct-to-video Urban Legends: Bloody Mary (2005). Final Cut isn’t a bad movie, but it is pretty sloppy at times. The kills are entertaining but not particularly memorable. While not as good as the original picture, this sequel is its own beast and stands on its own, albeit unevenly.
Video and Audio:
Presented in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio, the picture looks really good and features a fine transfer. Colors and black levels are spot on and there is plenty of small-object detail in hair and fibers.
There are two audio options on this disc, a DTS-HD MA 5.1 track and DTS-HD MA 2.0 stereo. This is a lively movie with an aggressive sound mix and the rear channels get a pretty decent workout. Music cues are well-balanced with dialogue levels and sound effects. Everything is clean and free from distortion.
Optional English subtitles are included for anyone in need.
Director John Ottman provides an audio commentary in which he shares plenty of information in a non-stop wave of production stories. He never slips into prolonged gaps of silence and keeps things moving at a steady pace.
The Legend Continues (17 minutes) catches up with the producers and executives who return from the original film hoping to capture lightning a second time. Everyone is enthusiastic in talking about the sequel, but they all pretty much admit that they were a little too ambitious and the film suffered for it.
A Discussion with Jessica Cauffel (17 minutes) catches up with the actress who shares lots of stories about working on the picture, bonding with the cast and mentally preparing herself to shoot her death scene.
A collection of deleted scenes (9 minutes) comes with optional commentary by Ottman, who reveals why they were cut. Most of the material was trimmed for pacing reasons and is fairly inconsequential.
A vintage making-of EPK (4 minutes) features clips from the movie, behind-the-scenes images and interviews with the cast and crew.
A gag reel (5 minutes) provides some pretty funny moments from the shoot.
The theatrical trailer is included.