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'Urban Legend'

By Michael O'Sullivan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 25, 1998

  Movie Critic

Urban Legends
Two teens await their fate in the latest teen slasher flick, "Urban Legend." (TriStar)

Jamie Blanks
Alicia Witt;
Jared Leto;
Joshua Jackson;
Rebecca Gayheart;
Tara Reid;
Michael Rosenbaum;
Loretta Devine;
Danielle Harris;
Robert Englund;
John Neville;
Julian Richings;
Brad Dourif
Running Time:
1 hour, 37 minutes
For sexual content, bloody death, profanity, and a scene of a dog being force-fed alcohol
Okay kids, I'm going to try to be nice here regarding this scary movie about a psychopath in a hooded parka who, by reenacting such urban legends as the one about the Guy with an Ax in the Back Seat of the Car, is methodically killing the entire student body of Pendleton College, one by one. (Actually, there are only eight students at Pendleton; the rest are all extras.)

Here goes: I was scared. I mean, I jumped the first couple of times when director Jamie Blanks did that BOO! trick where the heroine (Alicia Witt) is turning and the moving camera follows her as A. the janitor (Julian Richings); B. the campus clown (Joshua Jackson of "Dawson's Creek"); or C. the security guard (Loretta Devine) jumps into the frame.

Other than that, though, the rest of the film's "frights" are images of tepid gore and "Halloween"-style chase scenes through darkened buildings accompanied by the protracted sound of a woman screaming. Not very imaginative, to say the least. (Oops, I said I was going to be nice!) Anyway, it's no worse than any number of other cookie-cutter slasher flicks geared for the slightly post-pubescent market and it does feature an in-jokey appearance by Robert Englund (Freddy Krueger of the "Nightmare on Elm Street" franchise) as a creepy sociology professor.

There is also the requisite twist at the end and then a bonus twist on top of that, both of which are no more implausible, say, than the campfire bogey-man stories that "Urban Legend" is about. Witt is pretty good and so is Jared Leto as her boyfriend. Oh, and one more thing: After the movie, I checked the back seat of my car before I got in.

© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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