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'Urban Legends: Final Cut'

'Urban' dregs

Friday, September 22, 2000

At least "Urban Legend" had Robert Englund, minus his Freddy Krueger makeup and playing an urban legends expert. It also featured Jared Leto, Alicia Witt, Natasha Gregson Wagner, Joshua Jackson, Rebecca Gayheart and Loretta Devine. Not bad, huh?

It also grabbed all the best urban legends, leaving the dregs for "Urban Legends: Final Cut" (Rating; 1 star) or forcing the writers to graphically stage one mentioned in the first: that old I-woke-up-in-a-tub-of-ice-without-one-of-my-kidneys yarn. Here, the unwilling donor gets her head lopped off by a window and her bloody organ is lobbed to a snarling dog.

"Urban Legends: Final Cut" brings back Devine and she tries to lend some sassy snap to this bloody quasi-sequel. But she's hardly in the movie and, in the end, it's a slasher flick that is a self-indulgent nod to the obsession of film students.

The story takes place at Alpine University (actually Trent University in Ontario), home of a great film school. Seniors compete for the prestigious Hitchcock Award which carries $15,000 and a guaranteed entree to Hollywood.

Borrowing an idea from Devine's security guard, student Amy Mayfield (Jennifer Morrison) decides to make a film about a campus serial killer inspired by urban legends. And then, her fellow students begin dying and she falls under suspicion and almost under the killer's black leather glove.

The students are modern types, from the overacting blonde to the talented but penniless filmmaker -- and his doppelganger, with the same teeny cheekbone scar -- and special-effects geeks who worship George Lucas. They meet their deaths in R-rated fashion: shooting, slashing, bashing, electrocution, hanging.

Watching this, I was reminded of something Hitchcock supposedly said: "Always make the audience suffer as much as possible." I think he meant that in an entirely different way.

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