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Urban Legend review

Do we really care how another group of handsome teenagers screamed last summer? Judging by Urban Legends - in which another crop of pretty, TV-plucked teens yell in terror and flee from a killer who may be any one of them - probably not. Admittedly, the set-up is different: the school runs a class on urban legends (not so much Walt Disney's cryogenic corpse, more old lady thumbing for a ride turns out to be sadistic kid-slicer) and the killer is turning these tall tales into gore-spattered reality.

Sadly that's the only original idea in what is essentially a tired Scream rip-off pumped full of false alarms, loud music and sly winks to '90s pop culture. There's even a Drew Barrymore-style slaughter during the opening few minutes of the film.

TV youngsters Jared Leto (My So Called Life), Alicia Witt (Cybill) and Joshua Jackson (Dawson Creek) scream and scheme their way through the red herring-laced plot effectively enough. The problem is that we've seen it all before, and director Jamie Blanks mistimes his shocks and revelations to such an extent that any horror drains away and what plot twists there are can be spotted on the horizon lumbering towards the audience.

Scream's killer wore a mask. The madman in I Know What You Did Last Summer had a hook. The unhinged psycho in Urban Legend prowls the campus in the sort of fur-edged parka that kids wore in the 1970s. Blanks hinges his horror on having his characters surprised by other characters and erratic bursts of heart-jumpingly loud music. It works for a while, but after five or six times you know what's going to happen. Only Robert Englund makes the most of his cameo as the college professor.

Only half-witted adolescents will draw some mileage from this uninventive, downright derivative slasher clone, sloshed with testosterone, scream queens and gallons of blood. Yes, it will turn your stomach - but for all the wrong reasons.

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