As most everyone will know, Scream made slasher films popular again in the mid-90s, and rest of the decade was filled with movies trying to capitalize on Scream‘s unexpected success. Enter Urban Legend. What’s so interesting to me about these 90s slasher films is, unlike many of the ’80s slasher films (which came about due to the success of Halloween, Friday the 13th, and A Nightmare on Elm Street), is that many are actually entertaining horror films. Urban Legends fits that category as well.
Like most slasher films, Urban Legends revolves around a group of teenagers, this time at a University. There is a series of brutal killings happening around campus, and one student – Natalie (Alicia Witt) – believes they are connected to local urban legends. Her friends, on the other hand, think she is blowing things out of proportion, and the deaths are merely accidents, and their links to local legends are merely coincidence. The title of the film should pretty much tell everyone who is right and who is dead wrong.
Though she is the female lead, the worst part of Urban Legends has to be the performance by Witt. She is utterly lifeless and unbelievable the entire movie, which makes her boring as hell to watch. Jared Leto is great, as is Rebecca Garyheart, which helps moves the film along.
The choice to not show much on-screen violence was also something I didn’t like. Unlike nowadays where PG-13 is the rating every studio is aiming for, these films were shooting for the hard R, like Scream, and many got them even if they didn’t deserve it. Urban Legends would be rated PG-13 today, I have no doubt. There is not much gore, no nudity, and aside from some sexual references, it’s a pretty tame film.
What I liked about the movie, though, is that I had no idea who the killer would be until the third act. I had one person pegged the entire time, and was dead wrong, which was fun to see. Watching as many of these films as I do, I can normally guess who the bad guy will be. Urban Legends had me fooled.
I love the idea of using urban legends as the basis for the killer’s spree, and the script holds up pretty well through the finale. Scream this isn’t, but it’s still a solid ’90s slasher flick.