Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, May 9, 2013


Alicia Witt and Jared Leto compare notes
URBAN LEGEND (1998). Director: Jamie Blanks.

Urban Legend was one of the better and more successful films to come in the wake of Scream, which it resembles to a certain degree [as well as I Know What You Did Last Summer]. Natalie Simon (Alicia Witt) is a student at Pendleton University. When another student is killed by a maniac hiding in her back seat, Natalie doesn't at first reveal that she knew the victim and the two shared a dark secret. Things get worse when others in Natalie's circle begin to die in ways that relate to famous urban legends -- the psycho stalking the lovers in the parked car, etc [although at least one killing doesn't seem to fit this pattern] -- only the bodies either disappear or the school wants to dismiss the murders as suicides. Urban Legend is a slick horror film, adroitly directed, with some well-choreographed murder scenes [especially the death of the college president], although the editing just misses being really edge-of-the-seat. Alicia Witt makes an appealing protagonist, and Jared Leto is fine as a reporter who pokes his head into whatever weird stuff is going on. Loretta Devine is fun as the campus security woman, and Rebecca Gayheart, Michael Rosenbaum, and Joshua Jackson are also effective. Creepy, amusing, and not sickeningly graphic. Amazingly, this is yet another movie that borrows [however unconsciously] a plot device from Agatha Christie's "The ABC Murders." Followed by Urban Legends: Final Cut. This is actually a bit better than Scream, at least the first one. Well-photographed by James Chressanthis, and Brad Dourif has a memorable cameo in the prologue.

Verdict: Zesty, entertaining and well-acted horror flick. ***.

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