"Sometimes you can be too clever," says Producer Gina Matthews in a newly shot interview included on this disc. I agree with her, and it is refreshing to hear the filmmakers and cast discuss what went wrong with Urban Legends: Final Cut, which has a shocking amount of pedigree for such a lousy sequel. Directed by composer and editor John Ottman, Final Cut was written by Paul Harris Boardman and Scott Derrickson, who went on to direct Sinister and Doctor Strange. Ottman also edits and scores the film, which stars Jennifer Morrison, Matthew Davis and Eva Mendes. The biggest problem with Final Cut - and there are many - is that it is not scary. Not only is it not scary, it is often boring; a fatal flaw for a horror film. With a general premise similar to that of its predecessor, Final Cut moves the action to a film school and unsuccessfully tries to up the meta references and genre-baiting.
As I mention in my review of Urban Legend, I liked that film in 1998 and still do. I remember being excited the first time I saw the trailer for this sequel in front of another horror film, and I am sure producers envisioned crafting a Scream-like franchise from this material. Unfortunately, the movie unspools into a gigantic mess. Morrison plays heroine Amy Mayfield, a film student who decides to shoot a project about a serial killer who uses urban legends to murder victims. She gets her inspiration from security guard Reese (Loretta Devine), who survived the incidents in the first film. Her fellow classmates begin dying at the hands of a real killer, and life imitates art as the murders bleed their way closer to Mayfield's film. Funny is the seeming total lack of concern from school administrators as the bodies of students pile up across campus.
You may forget you are even watching a horror movie in the opening half hour, as Final Cut takes forever to get going. Interviews on the disc reveal a graphic kill involving a stolen kidney and a broken window was added after abysmal test screenings, and I can only imagine how boring the opening act was before this addition. You will not give one single fuck about any of the characters as written, and the film is content to go through the motions, checking off genre cliche after genre cliche as it moves forward. The film tries to be super clever by setting the action at a film school, so there are several scenes with the same "gotcha, it's only a movie shoot" gag. That gets old after awhile, and, while this movie apparently matched the $14-million budget of the original, it is ugly and blandly shot, with lousy acting and unconvincing set pieces.
This is Ottman's sole directorial credit, and he went back to his day job after Final Cut. Good decision, as he does not prove a particularly effective director here. The film lacks tension, the pacing is sluggish, and there are few surprises or scares. Anthony Anderson and Devine do provide some comic relief, and Morrison and Mendes do their best with the material. Jessica Cauffiel gives the funniest performance as a lousy actress trying to earn her spot in one of the student films. The actress recalls in a new interview how much fun the project was, but acknowledges the final result leaves something to be desired. There is certainly talent and some ambition here. It is a pity Urban Legends: Final Cut simply does not work.
The 2.40:1/1080p/AVC-encoded transfer appears dated, and I suspect Sony sent over the original master used back in 2001 for the DVD release for this film's Blu-ray debut. Sharpness, clarity and detail vary throughout; some scenes offer excellent fine-object detail, solid texture and bold primaries. Other shots are soft and anemic, lacking in detail and delineation. Colors are subdued, and black levels waver. Shadow detail gets a bit murky, but contrast is generally appropriate. Thankfully, I did not notice any edge enhancement or signs of noise reduction.
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix is decently immersive. Dialogue is clear if occasionally a bit quiet, and light ambient effects like crowd noise and weather waft through the surrounds. Action sequences invoke more active surround channels and a bit of LFE kick. The score is integrated appropriately. English SDH subtitles are included.
PACKAGING AND EXTRAS:
This single-disc release is packed in a standard case. There is a photo from the film on the rear of the cover artwork that is visible with the case open. Although it is not branded a "Collector's Edition," Scream Factory has included some new bonus features: The Legend Continues (17:04/HD) is a nice retrospective with remarks from producers, Phoenix Films brass, Devine and Gayheart. I appreciate that this piece covers production and some of the film's problems. There is also a new Interview with Jessica Cauffiel (16:41/HD), in which the bubbly actress recalls shooting her first film role. You also get an Audio Commentary by Director John Ottman; Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary by Ottman (8:39/HD); an Archival Making-Of Featurette (3:35/HD); a Gag Reel (4:59/HD); and the Trailer.
Rent It if you are a horror fan and want to check out the new bonus features. I realize it likely will be difficult to rent a catalogue title like this, but I cannot justify even a light recommendation unless you appreciate the film despite it flaws. This disappointing sequel to Urban Legend lacks the thrills and originality of that film, and is supremely disappointing despite some real talent behind and in front of the camera.