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Urban Legend

Urban Legend

By Patrick Samuel • January 8th, 2014
Static Mass Rating: 3/5
URBAN LEGEND (MOVIE)
TriStar Pictures

Original release: September 25th, 1998
Running time: 100 minutes

Director: Jamie Blanks
Writer: Silvio Horta

Cast: Jared Leto, Alicia Witt, Rebecca Gayheart, Michael Rosenbaum, Tara Reid

Urban Legends

At some point in our lives we’ve all heard an urban legend. Whether it’s around a camp fire, over dinner, in passing or maybe even at school, we all know at least one. When I was growing up I heard them all the time; they always involved something gruesome happening to someone but there was never any way of verifying the details of these stories because they never happened to anyone we knew directly. Such is the nature of an urban legend, and while they may vary each time they’re told, they’re kept alive by the community as a way to pass the time, entertain each other and scare a few souls in the process.

Following in the wake of Scream (1996) and I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997), films that reawakened an interest in the slasher genre that dominated the 80s with the Friday The 13th, Halloween and A Nightmare On Elm Street series, Urban Legend takes us to Pendleton University campus where we meet a group of students who are about to become very familiar with these modern folklores.

There’s the good girl Natalie Simon (Alicia Witt), her friend Brenda Bates (Rebecca Gayheart), obnoxious Parker Riley (Michael Rosenbaum), his girlfriend Sasha Thomas (Tara Reid), who operates a local radio call-in show, and Paul Gardener (Jared Leto), a college reporter. After Parker tells them the story of the “Stanley Hall Massacre” that took place about 25 years ago on campus, Natalie and Brenda are walking to their halls when they decide to play a game of “Bloody Mary” as a joke. The girls chant “Bloody Mary” five times, and after the fifth time they’re spooked by Damon Brooks (Joshua Jackson) who pops up to scare them.

Urban Legends

Things don’t stay funny for long when the students start to read about fellow Pendleton attendee Michelle Mancini (Natasha Gregson Wagner) who was decapitated in her car while driving home one night. It brings to mind the urban legend about a killer with an axe lurking in the back of someone’s car and they start to worry if this is an isolated incident or if there might be more murders.

Later that night, Damon takes Natalie out on a date to get her mind off Michelle’s murder, but when he parks the car in an isolated spot in the woods, she realizes he’s hoping for sex and demands that he get out. This sets us up for a re-enactment of another urban myth; the story of a couple parked at a lover’s lane. The guy gets out, either to investigate a strange noise or to relieve himself, leaving the girl alone in the car. When she hears thumping and scraping noises on the roof of the car she panics and drives off, unknowingly leaving her date with nothing to stand on while he’s strung up by the neck from a tree.

Although her friends think it might be another one of Damon’s pranks, Natalie believes there’s a killer targeting students on campus and using urban legends as his or her M.O. With the body count increasing, eventually her friends come around to her way of thinking, but there definitely seems to be more to the story than meets the eye.

Urban Legend is similar to the slashers released in the late 90s in that it contains quite a few red herrings, not least of all Professor Wexler, played by Robert Englund, who seems to Urban Legendsknow a great deal about these myths. Like Scream with its extensive knowledge of horror films, it also features characters referencing material that’s specific to the film’s narrative, in this case it’s a fluency with urban legends ranging from birth control pills, penis captivus , the babysitter getting phone calls from an upstairs room and the old lady who dried her wet dog in the microwave.

Though the acting at times leaves a lot to be desired, it still comes off pretty good when compared to countless films in the genre. Tara Reid puts in a good performance as the trashy radio host, her scenes with the killer remain as memorable as Sarah Michelle Gellar’s in Scream 2 (1997) and I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997). Rebecca Gayheart, who also had a small role in Scream 2 proves to be a formidable force and it’s surprising we didn’t see her in more high profile movies after this one.

As we try to figure out the identity of the mysterious vengeful killer, Urban Legend makes us remember many of the stories that told of ill-fated teenagers who were either in the wrong place at the wrong time, didn’t listen to good advice when it was given or watched one too many horror movies.

Urban Legends

Patrick Samuel

Patrick Samuel

The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is an emerging artist with a philosophy degree, working primarily with pastels and graphite pencils, but he also enjoys experimenting with water colours, acrylics, glass and oil paints.

Being on the autistic spectrum with Asperger’s Syndrome, he is stimulated by bold, contrasting colours, intricate details, multiple textures, and varying shades of light and dark. Patrick's work extends to sound and video, and when not drawing or painting, he can be found working on projects he shares online with his followers.

Patrick returned to drawing and painting after a prolonged break in December 2016 as part of his daily art therapy, and is now making the transition to being a full-time artist. As a spokesperson for autism awareness, he also gives talks and presentations on the benefits of creative therapy.

Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and science fiction, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.

Patrick Samuel ¦ Asperger Artist

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