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An underrated series of slasher films - the original is brilliant
on October 30, 2005
I don't think the Urban Legends series gets the attention it deserves. The quality of the films goes down with each sequel (with the third having nothing at all to do with the first two films), but it's still a darn good trio of horror movies. This is a great buy for those who don't already have all three films (especially the first two) in their DVD libraries.
Most of my high regard for the series is due to the original. Far from being a Scream clone, it is one of the most impressive slasher films of recent years, in my opinion. The suspense is sustained throughout, the identification of the killer is handled superbly, and the ending is well-nigh perfect. A serial killer who constructs his/her kills on urban legends - fantastic. Maybe it's not a wholly original idea, but no film had ever taken the premise to the extreme the way Urban Legend did. Among the talented cast, Alicia Witt and Rebecca Gayheart give particularly impressive performances. Gayheart in particular really expanded her acting repertoire with this film. The less talented cast members, as it turns out, were pretty much the first to be dispatched, and this works out well. It's always nice when a particularly annoying character you expect to have to deal with until the end gets offed in the first half hour. All told, I actually consider Urban Legend to be a much more original, shocking, effective film than any of the Scream movies it is invariably compared to. The final revelations of this film, as I have already mentioned, took me completely by surprise, and that really doesn't happen all that often.
Urban Legends Final Cut is a movie about a movie, basically, and this little twist to the classic horror formula plays out rather well. At the country's most distinguished film-making school, the Hitchcock Award for best student movie is the ultimate accomplishment, all but guaranteeing the winner a quick jump to a directing chair in Hollywood. The protagonist, Amy, decides to break away from her documentary roots and produce a horror movie, one in which a serial killer patterns his murders on urban legends. As Amy begins filming, several of her fellow students are murdered, and eventually the killer comes after her. All told, this is a better-than-average slasher film, combining good acting, great special effects, and an actual storyline that doesn't reveal its most important secrets until the very end. The special effects are pretty good, and there is a nice variety to be found in the urban legend-based murders. The movie has its lighter side, as well, obviously not taking itself too seriously. The movie could be considered rather Scream-like, but it has enough character of its own to succeed in its own right - but it's not as good as the original.
Urban Legends - Bloody Mary was a direct-to-video release that really had nothing to do with the first two films. While the film falls far short of its predecessors, Urban Legends - Bloody Mary isn't all that bad, though. It has some definite weaknesses, but it also has a nice sampling of blood and gore. There are many variations on the old Bloody Mary story, but it makes for classic urban legend fare. Look in the mirror, say Bloody Mary's name three times, and she appears - and then the fun begins. Apparently, a mirror isn't actually required after all, as young Samantha Owens conjures the restless spirit without one after hearing the story of a local girl supposedly killed back in 1969 - and disappears until the next day. Those responsible for Samantha's disappearance start dying, in rather gruesome ways, which makes Sam and her brother David (whom some blame for the murders) exceedingly unpopular at school. By about the second murder, the whole urban legend m.o. is applied rather loosely, but there's still the Bloody Mary connection. Samantha comes to believe that the killer is the ghost of Mary and that she is killing the children of those responsible for her death. There's no denying that Urban Legends - Bloody Mary is an exceedingly predictable little film. Mary's killer might as well have walked around with the words "I did it" on his forehead. There are some decent-sized holes in the plot, as well. Still, I enjoyed this movie. The special effects for Bloody Mary herself are pretty good, and the deaths are reasonably gory (although we sometimes only see the aftermath of them). You really have to judge this film on its own merits, though, as it really has next to nothing to do with the first two Urban Legends movies.