URBAN LEGENDS 2 FINAL CUT
Director: John Ottman
Year of release: 2000
Country of origin: USA
Running time: 94 minutes
DVD/Blu ray: DVD only
Tagline: "Legends never die".
Casting the spotlight on the slasher genre
Story: At the Alpine University Film School students are competing to win the prestigious Hitchcock award, an accolade that along with a cash prize could potentially propel the winner into Hollywood film making. After initially being unsure of what kind of film to enter into the competition, student Amy settles on a horror where people are dispatched by a killer making use of urban legends. It is an idea given to her by campus security guard Reese returning in a similar role to that which she held down in the original. As Amy begins shooting footage for her film one of her fellow students and favourite to win the award Travis commits suicide. Supposedly he was depressed that his submitted entry into the competition received a lower grade than expected. Meanwhile people who are helping out on Amy's film begin to disappear or die in suspicious circumstances. Suspecting something is going on Amy's investigating turns up a serial killer at loose within the university. She teams up with Trevor, the brother of the deceased Travis to try and get to the bottom of it while avoiding being picked off her self.
Good points: After the success at the box office of the original Urban Legend this sequel found itself with a healthy budget to play with and it shows. Though not overly gory aside from the first kill and a latter part involving some rats it is evident that money has gone into most everything else. The university where the film is set for example is very impressive looking along with the huge bell tower that is featured heavily in the plot. It all looks really slick presentation wise in terms of direction and cinematography which makes for a pleasurable viewing experience. Sadly this one didn't end up doing as well at the box office as its predecessor resulting in the third film in the series going straight to DVD.
There is a great mystery vibe running through this one which is something I personally really like in a slasher and the whodunnit aspects here are played up a bit more than in most. The suspect list includes rich student Graham, rival director for the Hitchcock award Toby, Trevor and the skinny guy with the long blonde hair (Grahams PA I think).
Amy is constantly on point as the final girl coming across as nice, sympathetic and resourceful while never being annoying. She leads what is generally a solid cast of characters really well. It is nice as well to see the Reese character return to bring at least a little bit of continuity to the series carrying over from the original even if she is still a bit dumb and not as helpful towards Amy as you might think given her experience in the original. Of course the Brenda cameo at the very end is also most welcome. There are a number of funny characters who inject a bit of humor as well such as Simon, Sandra, Stan and Dirk.
There are a few good chase or confrontation scenes between the killer and Amy which I enjoyed. Firstly in the recording studio thing where she was looking at the tapes which spilled out into a classroom and then outside and later the one in the mineshaft after Dirk and Stan are done away with. Finally there is a good chase scene towards the end as well at the bell tower this time also involving Vanessa. At the start of this last one though I did get confused as I didn't realise it was supposed to be a mannequin dropped onto the table and right up to the end I was puzzled as to who that was supposed to be. Only afterward when I read it was a mannequin did I realise.
Bad Points: There are lots of small things that either don't make much sense or are too convenient. I'll try and list them:
1) I thought it was odd how some of them who were competing for the award seemed to be working on each others films like how Toby was initially supposed to be Amy's camera man until he quit at the start. You wouldn't think they would be helping each other though seeing that they are all in competition as they could deliberately do poor work to sabotage a rival.
2) I didn't understand how Amy heard Simon scream but no one else did. She was wearing headphones as well so if anything would have been the least likely to hear. Also why did she go investigating alone instead of taking someone with her as there were lots of people with her doing the shouting/screaming she was recording?
3) It was very strange that Trevor didn't want to go to the police with his suspicions, hinting at a criminal past just seemed like lazy writing. He would have had Amy to back him up after all plus Reese who knew something was going on after seeing the damage in the studio. Could have least of said he wanted to build up more of a case before taking it to the police but to just refuse to go because of his past was silly. Why didn't Amy just go to the police instead herself then?
4) It was too much of a stretch that the killer would know Amy would see the light at the top of the bell tower and then actually go and investigate it leading to her meeting with Vanessa. Would have been more likely she just wouldn't have seen it or not bothered to check it out.
5) How did Amy and Trevor know that Toby would be out in his car and how did they know which part of the road in which to set up the fake breakdown?
6) Why does Graham just happen to pop up and get involved towards the end? He has no reason to show up at the end so it seems kind of random. He should have been killed off earlier really.
Spoiler in this point. The ending with the reveal of the killer was confusing to me. The way they presented the whole segment was muddled as Trevor seemed to be pretending to be Travis for Toby's benefit which was mind bending and then to muddy the waters further we learned that Toby hadn't even worked on Travis's film which was a pointless revelation. Either way he would have been a target because if not in the room Solomon would have assumed her worked on the film and eventually killed him anyway and as he (Solomon) was present he ended up shooting him there and then despite the revelation. It didn't add anything other than confusion. Plus the whole motivation of the killer was a bit far fetched as you wouldn't think Solomon would be able to submit an entry into the contest anyway being the teacher and not a student. Plus if Amy noticed a splice at the end of the film Solomon was trying to pass of as the work of Travis then surely the judges would notice a similar splice on the stolen Travis project that Solomon would turn in under his own name?
Verdict: I actually used to own this on VHS years ago and after watching it once I didn't like it and ended up getting rid of it. I'm not usually keen on film within a film type stuff so giving that and my dislike for it back when I saw it in my younger years I wasn't looking forward to picking it up again. I ended up liking it a lot more than I anticipated second time around though after so many years. It was a lot of fun and though it did drop off a bit towards the end it managed to maintain a high standard most of the way through.
Bodycount (contains major spoilers):
1) Lisa: Kidney removed and then decapitated by a closing window. 2) Sandra: Slashed repeatedly with a straight razor. Body later found in the bell tower. 3) Travis: Shot in the mouth to make it appear to be a suicide. Happened off camera. 4) Simon: Bludgeoned with a piece of camera equipment. Body later found in bell tower. 5) Stan: Electrocuted after a live cable is pressed to a railing he is holding on to. 6) Dirk: Also electrocuted after being pushed into a fusebox/live wires. 7) Vanessa: Hung from a noose in the bell tower.