Wes Craven’s Scream back in 1996 changed the way we see horror movies till this day with its meta format mixing humor and horror together and also making killing teenagers fun and exciting again. Afterwards, almost every follow up attempted to recreate the success by finding any creative way to kill teens for being sinful. One of those films came two years later in 1998 called Urban Legend.
Now I have to admit when I saw this movie in theatres, I was impressed with the gimmick they created to shake the formula a little bit and make it different. The idea that a killer is out there killing college kids by taking urban legends and making them true is pretty creative. I was 17 at the time and I have heard plenty of urban legends to know the many references that inspired each kill so I was all in on this one and enjoyed the over the top kills. Also, what a shocking twist in who the killer happened to be. Watching it now so many years ago my feelings have changed a little bit.
So one thing I really liked is that this movie definitely knew their audience. Look at the cast for example. Horror icons Robert England playing a professor who is teaching about urban legends. Who perfect to teach a class about death. Danielle Harris (Halloween 4 & 5) with a cameo from Brad Dourif(Child’s Play) as the gas attendant, who in my opinion had one of the most suspenseful scenes of the movie. In addition Joshua Jackson who was even made fun of in the movie turning on a car to only have the radio blast the theme song to his long running show Dawson’s Creek. Who can forget the sassy black woman who has no business being a security guard there to blindly let these murders go down at this college played by Loretta Devine. The rest of the cast of course recognizable from work a little later after Urban Legend but much like The Faculty, they chose unknowns to bring in the horror, not giving you any hint as to who lives or dies.
Another thing is the choice of urban legends to bring into the movie. They used quite a bit of favorites and known ones and even though we had an idea of how each of them played out, the deaths still played out with intensity and some surprise. One of my favorites is the legend death of our lead’s roommate being killed right next to her in the same room in the dark. If only, she had turned on the light she would have see what was going on and probably died herself. Afterwards, the phrase, “Aren’t you glad you didn’t turn on the lights?” was written on the walls after she discovers the body. That also brings me to why my feelings have changed a little bit watching it again. This killer while patient with performing each death precisely to each urban legend, the killer had to count on every person to do their part. Each death could have been thwarted if they had done just one thing different, simply by being in a different place at the time, gone left instead of right, turned on the light, listened to the warnings. etc. Each death felt very choreographed. A party full of people wall to wall in a house and not one witness saw a dog being put in a microwave and also cooked with no smell. These kids were begging to die.
The movie also didn’t really catch my attention watching it again. I found myself easily distracted and multitasking. Alicia Witt didn’t really impress me as a final girl. Too much whining. I actually would have preferred her and Rebecca Gayheart’s who played her best friend in the film switched. She would have made a stronger and believable lead. This movie was fun back then but now the movie just comes off as very cliché and fake. Too many red herrings through the film which will either make it very easy or impossible to figure out who is behind all the mayhem. Also, don’t judge a book by its cover. If these kids weren’t so judgmental about people who don’t have money, they would all be alive. Snobby little bitches if you asked me. My opinion is watch the others that came out around that time. Final Destination, I Know What You Did Last Summer, The Faculty, anything would be better to go down memory lane with.