An attractive young woman is driving her car on a dark country road and singing along to the radio. She's running out of gas and so she pulls into a gas station (run by a jittery, stuttering Brad Dourif), but then flees what seems to be an attack, only to find the real threat in her backseat: a hooded killer with an ax who takes her head off with a well-aimed swing. You've heard the story before? Not surprising, given that it's one of the more famous urban legends borrowed for Urban Legend, a post-Scream exercise in self-referential horror. The students at an ivy-covered New England college are turning up dead, the victims of a serial killer who murders in the fashion of the "apocryphal" modern myths. It's all for the benefit of good girl with a dark secret Alicia Witt, the sole witness to most of the killings. Doe-eyed Rebecca Gayheart, as her gullible best friend, and Jared Leto, the ambitious campus journalist who tracks down the secret that hangs over the school, lead a cast of pretty young women, hunky guys, and campus characters, notably the suspicious professor Robert Englund, a genre legend in his own right as the star of seven Nightmare on Elm Street films. Take away the cheeky remarks and self-awareness and it's a throwback to the 1970s' rash of teen slasher movies, where sexually active teens are sliced, diced, and otherwise slaughtered in elaborate and ingenious ways. The increasingly preposterous film is no Scream, but the modestly stylish production has its moments. --Sean Axmaker
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Cast: Alicia Witt, Jared Leto, Rebecca Gayheart, Joshua Jackson, Tara Reid, Robert Englund.
Running Time: 108 minutes.
Rated R for violence, gore, language, and mild sexual situations.
With the success of "Scream" (1996) and "I Know What You Did Last Summer" (1997), director Jamie Blanks cashes in on this second wave of slasher-hyseria with this slick, innovative angle towards the genre. The opening scene sets the tone for the entire film: a lone traveling college woman stops at a gas station to fill up, only to be harrassed by the sales clerk. Little does she know that the clerk is only struggling to warn her about the murderous maniac wielding an axe is hiding in her back seat.
This, of course, is an urband legend that has been passed down from generation to generation. Alicia Witt stars as a normal student adjusting to college life, only to have her friends being knocked off by a killer in strange fashion--all die similarly to famous urban legends. With the help from the sly journalist Leto, they attempt to track down the killer before it is too late.
Certainly a film that is better than expected, with an intense, smart script and suitable acting. Blanks does a fine job using certain camera angles and shots to portray the killer as mysterious and unknown. Look for Robert Englund, who plays Freddy Krueger in the "Nightmare on Elm Street" films, in a brief cameo as a college professor--he is almost as scary in this flick as his others. Rivals both "Scream" and "I Know What You Did Last Summer" in style and authenticity.
In fact it's extremely difficult, watching this, to give a toss who it is. It's one of the dullest, most mechanical, most derivative, least frightening horror movies I've seen recently. The plot, first of all, is a straight rip-off from the 'Scream' franchise, a plot line Craven has already done so thoroughly to death the last thing anyone needs is a retread anytime soon. The only twist is the urban legend angle which is also of course pinched from assorted other movies, most notably 'Candyman'. And most of the urban legends the film invokes are again just a set of horror movie clichés swiped from films like 'When a Stranger Calls' and 'Candyman' itself.
There are various tricks a director can use to keep an audience on edge during the bits of a movie when nothing genuinely scary is going on. A favourite one is this. Character X is wandering round alone and gets a terrible fright when they meet someone unexpectedly. Stick a sudden loud discordant chord onto the soundtrack and you give the audience a fright too. But then it turns out only to be Character Y and nothing to be frightened of. Many horror films have been known to use this little tease to make us jump. Jamie Blanks, the director of this film uses it very early on. And then he uses it again. And again. And again.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
Excellent quality, shipped in half the time it said it would and was packaged safe and secure. Would definitely buy from this seller again.Published on Oct. 14 2011 by Heidi Leigh
I only watched this movie because Jared Leto was in it, I was surprised. I mean, I figured he was the main character, and he was hardly in it! The acting is really good though! Read morePublished on March 29 2006
this was cool. a killer hackin off people by urban legends..........how original. great slasher movie one of the better ones. and tara reid in it!!!!!Published on July 8 2004
I saw this movie on TV the other day and, honestly, the movie has potential to be a kinda good scary movie but the low mentality of these students that we were supposed to believe... Read morePublished on June 12 2004
The string of teen horror flicks was revived with the wonderful Scream. It was then followed up with I Know What You Did Last Summer. Then along comes Urban Legend. Read morePublished on April 28 2004 by Ryne Williams
URBAN LEGEND is definitely a cookie cutter slasher movie, but Jamie Blanks directs with an intense fervor; the cast plays and/or overplays its roles with thespian gusto. Read morePublished on Nov. 19 2003 by Michael Butts
While not flat-out 'bad', Urban Legend really ammounts to nothing more then an untimately unfulfilling 'Scream' clone. Read morePublished on Nov. 10 2003 by Ron Burgandy