Blu-ray Review: Urban Legend
By Frankie Dees Jul 24, 2008, 14:53 GMT
When New England college student Natalie finds herself at the center of a series of sadistic murders seemingly inspired by urban legends she resolves to find the truth about Pendleton\'s own legend a twenty-five-year-old story of a student massacre at the hands of an Abnormal Psych professor. As the fraternities prepare to celebrate the macabre anniversary Natalie discovers that she is the focus of the crazed killer\'s intentions in the ...more
Still riding high on the ‘Scream’ slasher-pic revival, 1998’s ‘Urban Legend’ provides a bit of fun for genre fans with a clever concept, stylish direction and a solid cast including Jared Leto and Alicia Witt.
Like ‘I Know What You Did Last Summer’, ‘Urban Legend’ drops the self-referential style of ‘Scream’ and does its best to throw out straight-forward scares without the wink-wink.
Not as well made as ‘Scream’ or as fun as ‘I Know What You Did Last Summer’, the pic still manages to give fans of the genre what they want with elaborately staged kills and the more than effective signature pre-title kill sequence.
The story could be any number of cheesy, slasher eighties pics which is probably why I found it to be a fun guilty pleasure. Alicia Witt stars as Natalie Simon, a virginal red-headed college student with a shady past. With best friend Brenda (Rebecca Gayheart), she suffers her Goth roommate and immature frat goofs until she really starts to suffer as the pursuit of a campus killer who stages the murders as famous urban legends.
Turning to a college paper journalist Paul (Jared Leto), they sniff out a story and find more than an unexpected romance to keep them up at night…
So, yeah, we got a slasher template here that is religiously followed - cliché’s abound with college stereotypes, inane and illogical decisions by most everyone and a final reveal that results in giggles more than chills, yet, isn’t that predictability half the fun for films like this?
The villain, like ‘I Know What You Did Last Summer’, is borderline silly (a freakin’ parka?...and it doesn’t look that cold…) but the gore isn’t bad and the humor is more prevalent than ‘IKWYDLS’ so if it’s not necessarily scary, it still can make for a good time.
This catalog release features a 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode at 2.35:1 and it’s another solid effort if hardly demo material. Mostly a dark film, blacks look good but do suffer here and there with intended desaturation.
As always though, there’s no comparison in detail to the standard-def DVD which I pulled out for just an occasion (God help me, I now have ‘Urban Legend’ in both standard and high def).
A new lossless English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track is provided and is more than effective. Special Features are carried over from the previous DVD. First up is a commentary from director Jamie Blanks who takes the opportunity to talk our ear off less he doesn’t get another chance (and he probably shouldn’t have considering his next pic was the horrible ‘Valentine’).
A 10 minute making of and trailer round out the limited features along with Sony’s now standard BD-Live enabled content (as of now, just a standard template with downloadable trailers).
Not a good film by most reasonable standards but for fans of eighties slasher pics, it doesn’t take much – a cool, silly concept and some gore and we’re good to go. The cast is more than adept with Jared Leto, Alicia Witt and Joshua Jackson all putting on their best straight face and even Tara Reid manages to not annoy (although Reid-haters will enjoy this pic…).
The high-def presentation is fine with video/audio that’s sure to please and a few worthy, if not new, extras. Fans of the film or horror in general shouldn’t have a complaint with this release.