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Urban Legend (1998)

For many horror fans growing up, there is always that one 90's slasher that sits firmly at the top of their list as a favourite. Whether that be due to the nostalgia it holds for them of growing up with it or a genuine love for a generic era of horror movies that by todays standards is rather tame to say the least. Be that 'Scream', 'I Know What You Did Last Summer' or even the tail end of some of the more iconic franchise such as 'Childs Play', 'A Nightmare On Elm Street' and 'Friday The 13th", we all have that one that for better or worse we hold in high regard, even though we probably shouldn't. For me, that movie is 'Urban Legend'.


'Urban Legend', as the title would suggest, is a slasher movie in which the killer utilises the ideas of myths and urban legends in order to pick off a group of stereotypical teenagers on a private collage campus in New England. And to writer Silvio Horta's credit, this is a premise that is executed rather well. With each individual legend that is used throughout feeling appropriate in some way to the character that it is associated with. As we go on to learn with these characters that we are introduced to, each of them have some form of standout quality or annoyance that enviably comes full circle.


Visually 'Urban Legend' is executed to a much better standard than the overall film deserves. With director Jamie Blank utilising long panning helicopter capture to frame his wide panning landscape shots and his instance on dolly tracking work, really makes this film feel much higher in production value than most slashers that we encountered from this 90's era. Combining all of this visually pleasing direction with some rather entertaining and well executed practical effects that are used for the vast majority of the kill sequences and its not hard to to understand why this is such a well admired teen slasher amongst fans.


The casting is brimmed with recognisable faces from the world of horror, such as Brad Dourif, Robert Englund, Julian Richings and Danielle Harris. And although sadly, all of these horror icons are in smaller cameo rolls, it's still great to see them sparingly pop up throughout the run time of 'Urban Legend'. The central focus cast mainly consist of Alicia Witt, Micheal Rosenbaum, Jared Leto, Rebecca Gayheart, Joshua Jackson and Tara Reid, all of whom I would say where at the peak of their careers when this film was released. I don't really take any issue with the casting, it's clear no one is going to win any Oscars for their performances here, but they adequately enough see this movie though to the end in a convincing enough manner.


One of the main things I take issue with in this movie is the final twist ending. I find it is slightly unbelievable if I were to give much thought into its plausibility. And although having clear motive and reasoning for the acts committed and the way they are carried out, it's the killers reveal that brings into question the capabilities of this characters ability to commit these acts unaided that has me dumbfounded by the time the credits roll. I think from a 90's slasher standpoint, we as an audience are expected to just take these leaps in logic and ignore them for the purposes of the plot. Which, if I'm honest, more often than not I do tend to do upon rewatches.


Overall, 'Urban Legend' is a very entertaining mindless 90s slasher, one that I grew up with watching very regularly and will likely revisit for many years to come. However, on my latest rewatch I can't help but wonder whether my love and admiration for this movie does come from a place of nostalgia and how well this would hold up to a modern audience. This is undoubtedly, for better or worse, a 90's slasher at its core and has all of the pros and cons that come with movies from that era. If you're a fan of slasher movies from that time, then this is definitely going to be the movie for you.


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