Late in Scream, a character theorizes that movies don't make psychos; they just make psychos more creative. The left-field success of Scream had the opposite effect on filmmakers, however, providing a seemingly foolproof formula to endlessly recycle. The original Urban Legend came along fairly early in the self-referential slasher cycle, but was empty and desperate enough to suggest that the subgenre was already on its last legs. It wasn't, and fresh on the heels of Scream 3 comes Urban Legends: Final Cut, one of the least necessary sequels since Meshach Taylor reprised his role as an effeminate department-store employee in Mannequin 2: On The Move. Linked to its predecessor only by the presence of sassy security guard Loretta Devine and a handful of increasingly obscure urban legends—ever hear the one about the child-killing carnival?—Final Cut stars Jennifer Morrison as an aspiring filmmaker attending an exclusive film school where her collaborators start dropping like flies. The police refuse to even acknowledge that there's a psycho on the loose, so Morrison, abetted by the hastily introduced identical-twin brother of an early victim, attempts to ferret out the killer herself. Director John Ottman and screenwriters Scott Derrickson and Paul Harris Boardman stick religiously to the Scream template, hauling out the cycle's conventions—the film-nerd comic relief, the plucky heroine, the hunky but sinister male, the groan-inducing twist ending, and the mysterious killer with a secret grudge—with dispiriting predictability. Ottman keeps the inept, familiar slasher setpieces coming at a steady clip, but the Stepford film brats of Final Cut are such anonymous slasher bait that their deaths pack all the emotional wallop of Wile E. Coyote falling off a cliff. A sequel with the misguided chutzpah to rip off its derivative predecessor, Final Cut proves once again that the self-referential slasher film is every bit as tiresome and devoid of new ideas as the unironic bloodbaths that inspired it in the first place.

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