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Urban Legend Throwback Film Review


Directed by: Jamie Blanks

Written by: Silvio Horta

Starring: Jared Leto, Alicia Witt, Michael Rosenbaum and Rebecca Gayheart

Throwback Film Review by: Rachel Pullen

Urban Legend (1998) Film Review

I was watching Panic Room the other day in preparation for the Jodie Foster film podcast that is coming up (follow us on Spotify kids, we all love a shameless plug) and I realised that everyone’s favourite egomaniac Jared Leto was in it, and it got me pondering how many late 90’s/early 20’s movies he did.

Now in most of these movies, he played a B character and often they were successful films, Girl Interrupted, Fight Club etc, but no one remembers him because those movies had huge players in them, how can you compete with Edward Norton’s performance in Fight Club? You can’t! But one of the more forgotten roles and films he did was a cash grab slasher flick from 1998, riding on the waves of the success of Scream, yeah, we're going to talk about Urban Legend…please feel free to Google if he was in it because he was pretty forgettable in this movie.

Urban Legend tells the story of a group of teens who are at a very swanky university, I’m not exaggerating, this university looks like a country home! If I could go there, I wouldn’t feel as robbed as I do for my final investment into my degree! Anyway, they are reeling in the sudden death of a classmate who had been decapitated in her car and lead on to talk about murders that had happened in the same university the year before, of course.

Natalie (played by Alicia Witt) is suspicious, and as more of her school pals get knocked off she starts to see a pattern in the way they die; they're just like the urban legends we all hear of as children. So she pals up to the local journalism student Paul who is played by Jared Leto, and he is on the case, researching and investing his energy to help her solve the crimes or bang her, I haven’t quite figured that part out, I’m going with banging because I get that vibe that Jared would think he could bang anyone, even if it's not in the script.

Anyway, we enter the standard climax of any horror movie, it's night, it’s raining, and Natalie and Paul seem to be the last ones standing, they hear screaming coming from the 5-star dorm rooms and upon investigating Natalie finds her gal pal of the whole movie, Brenda, unconscious on the bed…not another dead pal, it's so hard to keep friends these days.

But surprise, Brenda is alive and whacks Natalie on the head, they tussle, Paul turns up late, he was probably looking in a mirror or something, and they manage to subdue her and get her into the car to take her to the cops, during this time we found out that her boyfriend, the love of her life was killed last year by an urban legend prank gone wrong because of students at the million-dollar school, the grief has driven her mad and she was like; “revenge will help’’ and so here we are.

No Brenda it won’t, but hey I would have done the same.

Without giving away too much, the film has your standard surprised ending/twist formula but as for the movie itself, it’s not predictable.

For you see, although Urban Legend is taking the already saturated slasher genre template, we must take our hats off to its fresh approach, for you see we as an audience tend to seek out things like nostalgia, the familiar and relatability, and who amongst us was not scared of the occasional urban legend story when we were little kids?

The 1998 film plays on the insecurity and fears that stem from our youth, and for a horror flick that’s a very clever move, and while the cast is pretty predictable and the kills are nothing we haven’t seen before, I applaud the movie for developing everyone on screen, no one is placed there just to die, for giving a back story that has a level of depth to it, and an idea that I’m surprised it took so long for Hollywood to cash in on.

This movie is not going to blow you away scares wise but it's an enjoyable little tale, with great casting and locations, the movie holds its head above the water, while many other slasher flicks of the time sank to the bottom.

So, what have we learned this week?

  • Universities in England are trash compared to the U.S.A

  • Jared Leto won’t save you if a mirror is nearby

  • And if your classmate seems unhinged, enquire into their knowledge of urban legends, just for your own safety.


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