It had a one-trick plot, milked cameos from horror bigwigs like Robert Englund (Freddie Kruger) and Brad Dourif (voice of Chucky) for as much reflected glory as it could, and was roundly slagged as another pallid Scream xerox. But, compared to the sequel, the original Urban Legend was a glistening beacon of quality and invention.
With every second horror flick gathering campus cannon-fodder for production-line slashers to slice and dice, it's probably unfair to criticise composer John Ottman's directorial debut just for being formulaic. But bashing it soundly about the bonce for executing that formula quite so stupefyingly badly is another matter.
Forget the fact that it's not even a proper sequel (different villain, setting and motives plus only two incidental common characters pretty much rule that out). Ignore the grainy Exorcist-apeing bleached cinematography (it turns every set-up into a visual mush, but, hey, that might be an `artistic' decision). Pretend that all those half-baked red herrings aren't just insulting, that the acting isn't Dawson's Creek-clone feeble and that all the juicy `real' urban legends weren't squeezed dry by the first film. Manage all of that (and it takes some Olympic-class mental gymnastics to do so successfully) and you still end up crashing headfirst into the unalienable truth that this is an awesomely un-scary horror movie.
Urban Legends fails to generate even a single adrenaline spike. Potential jumps are dolloped out with no attempts to heighten tension through music, camera angles or cutting. In the movie, the film students are preparing to enter films in the Hitchcock award. Old Hitch would be spitting coffin nails if he knew his name was linked with something that so blatantly ignored all of his most famous techniques.