Urban Legends: The Final Cut

Reviewed By Cochise
Posted 07/26/01 22:13:31

"Does this film measure up to the teen-slasher explotation film standard?"
3 stars (Average)

I hate teen-slasher exploitation horror films, but I enjoyed this one. It’s good.

WARNING: If you have not seen this film, please do not read this review until you have done so. Even though I have not given away the ending, some of what I have to say may spoil some of the suspense for you.

This is not a typical teen-slasher exploitation horror film. The skill of the director has elevated it to a status considerably above most films of its type. It is not a fantastic film, not even a great film, but it is an enjoyable and entertaining film. It is worth seeing.

The film is set in a film school. (This,in itself, should interest film buffs.) A group of students are making a film based on urban legends. However, the students begin to be killed off. The heroine investigates and must reveal the identity of the killer. Watch for unusual twists.

After seeing literally thousands of films, I believe that many viewers will say a film is crap because it is not in a genre they like. It is important that all films are not judged by the same standard. When judging a film, one must take into account the filmmaker’s intent, the genre of the film, and the needs of the target audience. The important criteria is: how does the film rate in relation to other films of its own genre? I believe this film stands up well as a slasher film for its intended audience. I would give it 2 stars as a mainstream film, but 4 stars as a teen-slasher genre film. Therefore the average of the two ratings is 3, and that is the rating I gave the film.

In the director’s commentary, he says that he deleted some scenes which deal with plot and character development. He says the deleted scenes would be appropriate for certain audiences, but not for the target audience of this film. (The deleted scenes and the director’s commentary on those scenes are on the DVD.)

After listening to the commentary, I got the impression that the film was not meant to be taken seriously (even though the preview trailer on the DVD appeared as if the film was, in fact, meant to be taken seriously by the target audience.

I believe that “Urban Legend Final Cut” is a tongue in cheek pay out of slasher films. The film is professionally done – and is full of all the appropriate elements in the genre. However, one of the refreshing aspects of the film is the plot elements that the audience might question are actually questioned by the characters – therefore allowing the audience to continue suspending disbelief. Two examples of are:

1. Trevor dying and his brother (twin?) appearing and the female character asking questions the audience might ask.

2. The reason the police are not simply called right away is explained as a plot element.

Unfortunately, the explanation by one of the characters as to why one of the intended victims always escaped was in a deleted scene. I believe it was a real shame the scene was not in the film.

The film had the usual weaknesses found in this genre. Some examples are:

1. The killer, when chasing the victim, moves slowly while the victim moves faster, yet the victim does not seem to get ahead of the killer.

2. The victims do not fight back like a real victim might.

3. The most glaring example in “Urban Legend Final Cut” is the scene where the intended victim goes down a ladder surrounded by a cage. (One of those cages designed to keep the climber from falling.) Anyway, the intended victim goes down the ladder first, followed by the killer. For a brief moment, the killer is climbing down the ladder, feet towards the victim, and can’t even see the victim. The victim does nothing, even though at that moment the killer is vulnerable. (Any real person would have grabbed the killer’s legs and pulled the killer off the ladder, or maybe even grabbed something and whacked the killer on the legs.) This one particular scene really bugged me.

Two particular plot points that I really didn’t like were:

1. The obsession or preoccupation of the students in the film school for slasher films. Certainly in a real film school, students would be interested in all genres.

2. The students are competing for an award called the Hitchcock Award. This supposedly shows the standard the school is supposedly striving for. We know this, then we see a scene where a student announces to a professor that her thesis film will be a film about urban legends. See then describes what any film school would consider a trite plot. I just did not find it believable that a prestigious film school would accept such a plot in the way the student’s teacher did.

Characterization was not complete enough for my taste, but for the purpose of the genre it was adequate. It was a bit better than many films of this type I have seen.

This film stands out in the area of plot. While not as interesting as “Shadow of the Vampire,” watching the characters in “Urban Legend Final Cut” make their student film using the appropriate equipment is interesting in itself. In one point the actual crew are putting away the dolly tracks as the camera is still making the shot. That works because the scene is about making a film.

As “Urban Legend Final Cut” is about the making of a film, the major theme of the film is what I call “realities within realities.”

The plot is full of clever twists, and the director's willingness (in my opinin) not to take the film seriously eleveates this film (in my mind) above typical slasher films.

The director’s commentary on the collector's edition DVD makes the film well worth watching. By the way, watch for the homage to Alien, Aliens, Blair Witch, and Urban Legend. There is an homage to another film as well, but I’ll let you find it.

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