Director: John Ottman
Cast: Jennifer Morrison, Matthew Davis, Hart Bochner, Joseph Lawrence, Anthony Anderson, Loretta Devine
Screenplay: Paul Harris Boardman, Scott Derrickson
97 mins. Rated R for violence/gore, language and some sexuality.
Amy Mayfield (Jennifer Morrison, Batman: Hush, TV’s House), a student at an upscale film school, has just decided on her thesis film: a serial killer who uses urban legends to kill his victims. The idea itself is an tall tale that supposedly happened at another university several year previously. Professor Solomon (Hart Bochner, Die Hard, Rules Don’t Apply) believes it’s a great idea, and Amy sets to work on her new film, but as soon as cameras start rolling, members of the film crew start getting killed, and it seems that life is imitating art imitating life as an actual serial killer is responsible. The question now comes to…who?
This is Ottman’s feature directorial debut, so I don’t want to be too harsh on him, but it seems like he didn’t know what to do here. It’s likely that the script wasn’t strong enough to begin with, but there’s a real lack of understanding apparent throughout the feature. It’s not a good movie, plain and simple, and while there are a couple good scenes, Final Cut is really all over the place. I know the attempt is being made at a more self-aware and slightly comedic tone, but it just comes off lazy. Ottman struggles to maintain a tone of any kind.
As I said above, the screenplay, from the writing team of Paul Harris Boardman and Scott Derrickson (The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Deliver Us from Evil) is confused a muddled. I’m not sure if the point of the film is a progression of the urban-legends-as-forms-of-murder of the first film in that the murders are taking place surrounding an almost film-version of the previous slayings or not. The killer isn’t really using urban legends to kill as often in the film, and he more or less just shows up near the set and kills people that way. It’s not really creative. In fact, an early kill scene in the film that actually utilizes a classic urban legend was only added to punch up the gore factor. There’s also a complete misunderstanding of filmmaking as a process and a business. It’s a fundamental issue that permeates the story.
The performances in Final Cut are mostly forgettable. I had forgotten Jennifer Morrison was the star until I rewatched it. Outside of the excellent Hart Bochner, no one is used well here and all of the characters become pretty flat characters just lined up for the chopping block. Even Loretta Devine (Crash, Always & 4Ever), returning from the first film, serves as an exposition machine, only showing up to progress the story and put doubt onto Amy’s claims that someone is killing her movie crew (remember that Devine’s Reese has had this happen before at a different university).
Urban Legends: Final Cut is shockingly not the final film of this series, and even though the eventual third film, Urban Legends: Bloody Mary, contains no connection to Final Cut, it does seem like this entire movie was a setup for that last shot, which is a confusing doozy of a tag to end the film. I just don’t get what this movie is or what it’s trying to be, and it somehow fails to be anything at all. I forgot most of the film. You probably will to.
-Kyle A. Goethe
For more 31 Days of Horror, click here.
For my review of Jamie Blanks’s Urban Legend, click here.