1998; Rated R; 99 Minutes
Jared Leto: Paul
Alicia Witt: Natalie Simon
Rebecca Grayheart: Brenda
Natasha Wagner: Michelle Mancini
Michael Rosenbaum: Parker
Produced by Brad
Luft, Gina Matthews, Michael McDonnel, Neal H. Moritz and
Brian Leslie Parker; Directed by Jamie Blanks; Screenwritten
by Silvio Horta
by DAVID KEYES
opening scene of "Urban Legend" begins like the "Scream"
movies; a murder takes place in a car that pulled out from
a gas station, because in the back seat is a masked killer
with an ax. This, of course, is an urban legend; a clichéd
myth that, as one of the stars of the movie once defined
it, is a story that changes as new generations tell it;
when it is passed down, the teller intentionally or accidentally
modifies it. I don't know if you could particularly pinpoint
a meaning to the term, but if there was, it certainly wouldn't
mean "something that crazy campus college freaks would make
come true when they hear these stories." The setup of this
movie plays exactly like this theoretic definition. A college
wacko makes all of these different urban legends come to
life, despite the fact that they seem obviously unrealistic,
or impossible. After all it is called an urban 'legend.'
Legends are myths, and have no proof of actually existing.
the side, we have no proof that the people who made and
starred in the movie knew what they were as well. The movie
uses them frequently through the process of a horror movie,
most of which I'm quite unfamiliar with, and others that
I vaguely can remember. I never once heard of an urban legend
involving swallowing pop rocks and carbonation, and what
it would do to you, but perhaps it does exist. Perhaps it
don't care. "Urban Legend" is a bloody, unwitty movie that
tries to add in those 'hip' and 'cool' vibes that the "Scream"
pictures had. Yes, the material is not that different in
style and motivation, but instead of the awesome two-hour
experiences that we get with those Wes Craven movies, what
we get is an endless series of gruesome death scenes that
occur right in the middle of an episode of those mistaken
fright cords that they play to make audiences jump out of
their skin. Someone asks who's there, they look around the
corner, and are nearly paralyzed by someone who walks up
on them from the back. At this time, a large chord plays
in the background that bursts through the sound system and
into our ears with little effect. Roger Ebert calls them
the "chreep chords." They should more appropriately be called
the "chords of chatastrophe." They merely test our attention
span, to see if we're still awake or not. Every two or three
times after the chord is played, the real murderer shows
up, just in time for another one of those gruesome death
is not scary. It's downright annoying--so annoying at some
points that its no wonder we want to fall asleep. A movie
can only repeat a process so many times before it gets tiresome,
and "Urban Legend" plays them out to the point where it
feels like we're watching the movie in heavy rotation. For
99 minutes, we are forced to sit through these interventions,
as if we're supposed to find them terrifying, or worth the
yes, what's strange is that the material isn't that different
from "Scream." In those movies, people saw horror movies,
knew that they couldn't be taken seriously, and were proven
wrong when one of them seemed to come to life in their own
town. In "Urban Legend," no one believes these things until
someone begins carrying them out, and only then is it realized
that the movie, truthfully, is "Scream"s significant other
in the genre. Actually, it's more like the opposite. "Scream"
plays very well with its subject matter, while "Urban Legend"
grows weary and exhausted of this type of formula.
something else could be done with the whole concept, then
I'm afraid you'll have to wait for "Scream 3." Until then
try to avoid movies like this. You can only hear these 'chords'
so many times before you get a little annoyed.
1998, David Keyes, Cinemaphile.org.
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