Sunday, March 18, 2012

Movie Series Review: Urban Legend

Sometimes I find it really enjoyable getting a horror movie franchise and watching it from beginning to end. It’s always enjoyable watching the series evolve for better or worse. Normal in those worse case scenarios it’s still bloody hilarious. Does anyone remember Leprechaun in Space?

With the success of Scream came a whole heap of like minded movies with intentions of over throwing the throne. Normally they were slashers, with teens and a healthy dose of winking to the audience and being in on the jokes of the genre. Urban Legend was an interesting attempt at really trying to distinguish itself from the others by tapping into our fears of the urban legends we’ve heard from time to time.

Insane escaped mental patient? Check. Pop rock and soda? Check. The list goes on and this series of movies tried to cover them all. But it’s not just what the movie was trying tap into with audiences, but what happens in its evolution. The jump from the second to the third movie is very weird and makes you wonder what goes through the heads of the execs behind the film companies. Anyway let’s get into the series.

Urban Legend (1998)

The first movie in the series is interesting, and while the urban legends angle of the helps the film, it is a little weak and seems more that someone had this great idea but no real way of pulling it off. Still the actors in this movie do have a certain amount of charisma and do lend the movie a better cast than you would think is deserved.  Joshua Jackson, Alicia Witt and Michael Rosenbaum are particularly strong in their roles. It was also nice to see a guest role given to Robert Englund, who is always a joy to watch on screen.

Despite the weakness of the script the plot still chugs along, and the final reveal of the killer makes sense and was actually a surprise for me. I think at least with this movie it offers a good foundation for the franchise. Breezy enough, I would definitely recommend this movie to lovers of the slasher genre if only to watch one of the better ones, if not the best.

Urban Legends: Final Cut (2000)

Yet again a case of good but not great. I had fun watching this movie, and actually really liked the idea of having this movie taking place at a film school. Still delving into urban legends, it looks into some of the film like myths but not solely. Unfortunately this is a lesser product to the first. The acting isn’t as good, even though a young Eve Mendes and young Jennifer Morrison do fine. The movie also seems more intent following the standard clichés of slasher movies. That or maybe the urban legend angle is already losing some of its lustre.

What’s interesting is the approach this film takes and isn’t actually a sequel. There are some links to the first movie but they are very slight. The people involved and the killer involved are really not connected, and I like the idea that this franchise seems to be setting up a series of movies that look at various killers using urban legends. The end of this film actually did get me excited for a possible third movie; however things went a little pear shaped.

Urban Legends: Bloody Mary (2005)

Like the previous sequel, this movie attempts to separate itself from the other films and just keep the unifying theme of the urban legends. However this movie has the waft of shameless cash in as it makes one of the two biggest mistakes a franchise can make in my opinion. In my opinion you know a franchise is on shaky territory when it either goes into space, or turns a non paranormal series into a paranormal series (your day will come Boogyman series). And so we get this third slice of the legends featuring a genuine paranormal villain in the form of Bloody Mary.

The jump in tone is not helped by pretty bad acting all round, and a script that is just cluttered and confused. Unlike the jump into space of some horror franchise this is painful to watch as there is no camp value to be had. I later learned that this movie was originally just a Bloody Mary movie, and in the hopes of getting some extra money they added the Urban Legends tag. Instead of making extra money it killed the franchise.

Final Thoughts: 

There could have been a good franchise from this idea but it never really got off the blocks with a flying start. I enjoy the first two as I do believe they are okay movies despite their flaws, and considering the amount of bad slasher films out there, these two movies are worth your time. The third movie unfortunately did a great job of killing the potential. Damn you Bloody Mary, damn you to the pits of hell. 

The face of film executive tampering.

1 comment:

  1. Movies have been the source of entertainment from a long time, but these days they are impacting us more than ever. One can always bring up the horrifying rise in teen promiscuity.