Urban Legends: Final Cut
Several student filmmakers, who would love to make it big in Hollywood, must first survive their last semester at Alpine University, where their thesis films will vie for the prestigious, career-making Hitchcock Award. The competition is a killer – and someone is killing the competition!
I’m reminded of the “Saturday Night Live” sketch years ago that featured Tony Perkins from “Psycho” giving instructions on hotel management: “When a woman loses her key, do you (A) Give her a new key. (B) Open her door with your master key. (C) Hack her to death with a kitchen knife.” The actor delivers the line with a deadpan, neurotic stare. This is intentional farce. While the new “Urban Legends: Final Cut” contains the same comical camp, I’m not entirely sure it is intentional. Calling this sequel a satire may be giving the filmmakers a bit more credit than they deserve. Twice, there are chase scenes that inspire some tension, but generally there’s little suspense. Filled with more red herrings than legitimate thrills, it ignores the lessons learned in last year’s spooky “The Sixth Sense” about creating true spine-tingling, Hitchcockian tension. Like most horror films aimed at today’s teen market, it prefers staying with the less-challenging slasher effects of ‘80s serial killer movies that make it appear as if we the audience are both the cameraman and the assailant. The graphic executions are a turn-off to some, while gleaning a favorable “Whoa” from less-demanding movie-goers. Here we see several college students, most of them nubile young things, walking alone in desolate areas of the campus, only to be hacked to death with a kitchen knife. In the most creative reenactment of an urban legend, we see a co-ed awaken from a drug-laced cocktail, lying in a tubful of ice. Upon examination, she discovers her kidney has been removed. There it is on the table. When she tries to escape, she is beheaded and the organ is fed to a German shepherd. “Whoa.” Other less creative depictions of old wives’ tales feature electrocutions, stabbings, shootings, hangings and bludgeonings. As for the characters, these collegians act as if they couldn’t pass their SATs, let alone survive fourth-year midterms. I mean, these people are dumber than a bagful of hammers. We are given some lame reason, but no matter how many corpses keep piling up, no one calls the police. They just keep strolling down those desolate campus locations. Maybe it’s a comment on the youthful belief that they are immortal. Or maybe it’s just bad writing. Defining suspense, Hitchcock told an audience, “Show a bomb under the table that neither of the two conversing people sitting at the table are aware of. As they continue their conversation, cut to the bomb, back to the people, then to the timer, etc. The closer it comes to detonation, the more anxious the viewer will become.” Then he said, “But you must never let the bomb explode.” In “Urban Legends: Final Cut,” the director skips all that unnecessary suspense buildup, preferring to simply let the bomb explode.