Foreshadowy 'Legend': good, scary fun

September 29, 1998|By Chris Kaltenbach | Chris Kaltenbach,SUN STAFF

As guilty pleasures go, "Urban Legend" isn't half bad.

Like just about every horror film of the past 20 years, it's filled with attractive young people who mostly end up with their insides where their outsides are supposed to be -- generally because they act really stupid.

It's also got some genuine shocks (thanks to the sure-handed direction of Jamie Blanks), some ludicrous plot twists and at least one standout performance -- Rebecca Gayheart, who's particularly effective after a mid-film mood swing lets us see a side of her we may not have guessed at. The rest of the generic cast of TV names includes Alicia Witt, Jared Leto, and Joshua Jackson.

Set at gothically lit Pendleton College, the movie tells of a killer who is imitating those grisly urban legends we always hear about.

Thus we're treated to a bunch of people being killed in gruesome, yet familiar ways. Which is how screenwriter Silvio Horta manages to sidestep one of the big problems with today's slasher flicks; it's all been done before.

Less successful is the film's attempt to mimic "Scream," the shocker that re-energized the genre a few years back. Like its predecessor, "Urban Legend" tries to be pop-culture smart, but is more imitative than inspirational. Still, "Urban Legend" is blood-curdling good fun, even if you see what's coming 100 miles away.

'Urban Legend'

Starring Alicia Witt, Rebecca Gayheart and Jared Leto

Directed by Jamie Blanks

Released by TriStar

Rated R (horror violence/gore, language and sexual content)

Running time 100 minutes

Sun score **

Pub Date: 9/29/98

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