Final Cut (2000) Revisited – Horror Movie Review

The episode of Revisited covering Urban Legends: Final Cut was Written by Emilie Black, Narrated by Adam Walton, Edited by Victoria Verduzco, Produced by Lance Vlcek and John Fallon, and Executive Produced by Berge Garabedian.

The late 1990s and early 2000s were a period where horror fans either loved or hated what was being produced and released. For every new good movie, there seem to be 10 bad ones. The genre felt like it was saturated, and a lot of films came off similar to each other. Scream started a self-referential trend in horror, one that went from mild references to other films to straight-up meta stories. One of the better-received horror films of the late 1990s was 1998’s Urban Legend. It played with stories everyone knew, and it was fairly brutal in its approach to killings. So, to no one’s surprise, it was followed up by a few sequels, including the second film in the series Urban Legends: Final Cut (watch it HERE).

So, let’s start with if this sequel is worth spending time with. The answer is yes, definitely. However, in terms of a rating, the film earns a 7 out of 10, so a passing grade, but it has issues. Overall, the film is entertaining, but it feels more formulaic than the first, with some parts of its story feeling like they are trying too hard. The film really wants to be more than it is, but it kind of fails.

When it accepts that it’s a cheesy sequel to a cool slasher film and that it most likely won’t repeat the success of the first, then it becomes really fun. If you know what you’re getting into from the start, it’s easy to enjoy it. It’s a popcorn film, it’s not the brightest, it tries a bit too hard, it has some fun kills, and it’s basically ultra meta, going with the students making a horror film about urban legends. They go as fast as referring to the first film, like the events that happened at that other college are a sort of myth or urban legend.

Urban Legends: Final Cut Revisited

What’s the story here? Following the first film where a bunch of college students, some of them taking a class about urban legends, end up getting killed by a slasher using urban legends as inspiration. The sequel took it a notch further, making the students film students working on their thesis project in the hopes of winning the Hitchcock Prize, which included a shot at making it big and money prize. One of the students, our lead Amy, is making her thesis film about urban legends.

It’s meta on meta on meta here, maybe a bit too much for the film’s own good. However, it mostly works. Well, kinda. It’s not the best story, but it’s a decent way of bringing more urban legends into the film. Of course, other urban legends happen around the film they are working on, outside of school and at school. Some of the legends used are the ones Amy has in her film, but some others are not. The film takes a few liberties and tries to cram as many legends as it can, even using some that are based on other media.

For example, here, the plane sequence that opens the film has a reference to Twilight Zone: The Movie from 1983. Opposite of that, the last scene of the movie here brings in Rebecca Gayheart, reprising her role of sorts from the first film, dressed as a nurse, pushing the Dean from this film in a wheelchair in a mental institution while the theme to Alfred Hitchcock Presents plays. This sequel knows what the fans want, and it serves it from start to finish.

In between the plane sequence at the start and the mental institution at the end, we get served some of the most obnoxious college students put to film here and a few friendly ones. Of course, almost everyone is up for the killer to grab, no matter who plays the part. So, the characters are all working on their films; Amy is working on her urban legends, seeing things and hearing things that may or may not be there while mourning the passing of her best friend.

Said best friend ended his life after receiving bad critics of his thesis film, something that doesn’t sound like him, but also something that seems to be generally accepted as logical pretty quickly by most beyond Amy. And beyond Bestie’s twin brother, no one knew about. That’s right, the film brings in the surprise twin once the best friend is out of the picture, and well, Amy gets to fall for this twin who suddenly shows up because the film needed a love angle somewhere to sell the film to girls, a film industry tactic that shows how little they know about what female horror fans want. Of course, this twin is not brought in for nothing… He gets to be part of the last showdown, but that’s later.

Before that, we get to see Amy make her movie, film in an abandoned mine attraction park-style ride, complete with cheesy miners, which her effects crew gets to make all gory and scary, costing them their lives. Here we learn that Amy’s assistant in this production, Vanessa, might just be in love with her… Something that doesn’t just happen for no reason. People die, most audience members lose track of the plot because their attention went poof about midway through the film.

As a connection to the first film, Reese, the campus security lady from the first film, has changed colleges after some major cover-up happened at her previous job, and she didn’t want to play along. Here, she’s skeptical at first but eventually becomes an important ally for Amy. She’s fun for the viewer to have around, she makes references to Pam Grier and her films, and she has a golden gun just like her, a gun that comes into play at the end of the film.

Urban Legends: Final Cut Revisited

As you see, nothing here happens just for fun or to be forgotten, here, everything happens for a reason, and all the loops are closed, no matter if they need to be or not, no matter if they make complete sense or not. The thing is, as long as the kills keep coming, the killer is not obvious, and there is some fun nonsense, the audience should enjoy this. It’s enjoyable on a dumb slasher type of level. The first one was better written, better directed, and had a better cast overall, but this one is decent. It has a decent enough script, the direction is passable, and the acting works for most of the characters. Of course, there are some story issues, and it’s not all surprising, but it’s mostly fun, and that’s what most people come to slasher sequels for.

The cast here is less well-known than the cast of the first film. While the first has Robert Englund as a professor, here we have Hart Bochner as the school’s Dean. He was an established actor at the time, but he was not exactly a horror legend like Englund. Playing the students in the first, we have Joshua Jackson, fresh off of Dawson’s CreekJared Leto from My So-Called LifeAlicia Witt, who was on Twin Peaks and Cybil as well as in a bunch of films; Rebecca Gayheart, who had been in Scream 2, Beverly Hills 90210 and was the face of Noxzema for a while, Michael Rosenbaum who was fairly new but about to hit it really big. The cast also included Tara Reid, Danielle Harris, Natasha Gregson Wagner, Julian Richings, Loretta Devine, and more. The first film had a stacked cast of recognizable faces. The sequel? Well, it has a few familiar faces, but the levels were not exactly the same here. The lead is played by Jennifer Morrison, who has been in 3 films before that; Matthew Davis, for whom this was a second film; Loretta Devine, coming back from the first; Joey Lawrence, who was known mostly for his all-America dude style and parts who may have been doing this one to change his image.

Anthony Anderson, who was more known than most in the cast with plenty of roles on his resume, Anson Mount, Eva Mendes, Jessica Cauffiel, and a few others who were mostly new to acting, some with a few past roles, but most being fresh faces. The film followed the usual slasher cast pattern of a few known names, some familiar faces, and a bunch of new people. The cast here did not have the appeal of the first film’s cast, so it had to hinge on its sequel status a lot more for marketing.

As a horror fan, what sold my ticket was that poster. It had that fencing mask above the typical group shot of the characters we could expect to see get killed in the film. The cast was interesting in that some were familiar, but the lack of Robert Englund or most of the original cast seemed odd. The trailers were ok at best, but the promise of more urban legend-based kills was something that could be skipped. Having seen the first in the second-run theater that no longer existed by the time the sequel hit Montreal, this one had to be seen in a regular theater, so we made the most out of it and saw it as a midnight movie.

And that is what this film was made for, to be seen with friends after a shift at work at the end of a school week at college, a long week needing to be let go of while watching people scream and die on screen. This is what this film is. It is non-pretentious in that it’s made to just watch casually and enjoy while not necessarily paying full attention. There are some issues here and there in pacing, but watching it with friends late at night, sitting in the dark, fighting fatigue, and surviving on popcorn and bad soda, was THE way to watch this and enjoy it.

Of course, back in the day, it seemed better than it does now. My current 7 out of 10 probably would have been an 8 out of 10 back in 2000, back when I had not seen just about every slasher film ever made, back when my threshold for what made a good film was a lot lower, back when a cool mask, a couple cute dudes on the cast, and some fun kills was all I needed to make me plop down $10 for a ticket on a random Friday night. In terms of being a slasher sequel, this one does quite well. It has fun sequences; the kills are varied, the acting is decent, and the plot doesn’t have too many holes.

Urban Legends: Final Cut Revisited

The film does have some idiocy here and there to make the story work, but it’s far from the worst seen in the last few decades. It’s a glossy film with actual color, something we were soon to lose with the gritty era of slasher about to be upon audiences a few years later, so watching it now, even though it’s a film released in 2000, it feels very much like the late 1990s, the Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Urban Legend era. The era with stacked casts left and right, an era where an R rating was just fine, and it could do well at the box office.

Also, an era where slashers left high school and went to college, giving audiences victims that were a bit older, a bit wiser, a bit harder to kill and Urban Legends: Final Cut is one of those, giving us a final girl who can fight, an ally who can shoot, and a killer who doesn’t fully make sense but they make it work. The nods to other horror films and television series, the more subtle stuff, the things that don’t scream, “Hey, look at me, aren’t I clever,” help this film greatly. While it does try to be out meta its predecessors, it also has some fun bits here and there in it, enough to make it a fun film. Seeing the cast in this, seeing where they all went, makes it a fun rewatch over two decades later.

Also, with a title like that, one could have thought that Urban Legends: Final Cut was going to be the last film of the franchise, the only sequel, but of course not. It was followed by the much worse Urban Legends: Bloody Mary, thus making sure that the series had what many slasher franchises had, diminishing returns. But that is a story for another day…

Two previous episodes of Revisited can be seen below. To see more of our shows, head over to the JoBlo Horror Originals channel – and subscribe while you’re at it!