Urban legends; stories that have become so ingrained in the public conscious that many people believe them to be true. We all know someone who knows someone who this certain something has happened to, whether it be the babysitter tormented by phone calls coming from inside the very house she's babysitting in, to the van full of evil clowns that force you to take acid and trip balls with them on your way to Bonnaroo (okay, maybe that one's true). In Jamie Blank's campy slasher "Urban Legend", these stories become the modus operandi for a serial killer bent on amassing a serious student body count at a the fictional Pendleton University, as Natalie Simon (Alicia Witt) and her circle of friends are picked off one by one.
Red herrings abound! Is it the creepy Professor Wexler (Englund), the college's resident urban legend expert? Is it the dreamy college paper's Paul Gardener (Jared Leto), desperate for some serious journalism for his resume'? Is it the girl from the Noxzema commercials (Rebecca Gayheart), angry that she'll forever be known as “The Girl from the Noxzema Commercials”? Does it even really matter, just so long as the killings are as fun and inventive as the ones on display here?
Urban Legend is a solidly entertaining - albeit oftentimes daft and formulaic - slasher film. The gimmick of killing people in the spirit of a particular urban legend is pretty novel and director Blanks, shows a good eye for the genre with some genuine jump out of your seat moments, while his attractive cast keeps our eyes glued to the proceedings even when things get bogged down by the occasional lull in action. While Alicia Witt will probably never have to worry about what to write for her Academy Awards acceptance speech, supporting cast members Gayheart, Leto, and even a pre-alcoholism Tara Reid do a fine job with what they have to work with, and make this one of the few examples of Scream-inspired horror flicks that still hold up to scrutiny over a decade later.
Sony’s Blu-ray presentation of Urban Legend looks and sounds very much like one would expect a fairly young flick would, with a mostly crisp and clean transfer that suffers from only a slight amount of grain and occasional softness in the image. Detail is, for the most part, quite nice, though, and the transfer has a depth and vibrancy the bests any version of this film I’ve seen thus far.
The Dolby True HD 5.1 audio track is just as solid in its sonic assault, with an expressive mix that makes full use of the surrounds, filling the room with subtle (and not so subtle) effects. The track stumbles a bit in terms of balance, as some positively jolting bass response saw me occasionally fiddling with the volume to spare my neighbors, whilst straining to hear dialogue in quieter moments. Overall, though, it's an impressive mix!
Supplements are all carryovers from the DVD releases, including a commentary by Blanks and a ten minute making-of EPK (in Standard Definition and looking all the worse for wear). A few HD trailers for Sony releases round out the extras.
Urban Legend is another in a long line of guilty pleasure flicks for me. I'll watch this a dozen times and never get sick of it, as its simple pleasures are delicious, easily digestible, and just as quickly forgotten. This, much like the simultaneously released "I Know What You Did Last Summer" Blu-ray, is fluff horror at its finest, and has never looked or sounded better. If you're looking for the brutal sado-masochism of a "Saw" flick, this movie is certainly not for you, but if you're in the mood for horror that's a little on the lighter side (and won't send your dates running for the exits), Urban Legend certainly delivers.