Urban Legend (1998)★★★★☆
I like this movie a lot, though admittedly that’s probably more for the sense of nostalgia and whimsy I get watching it than any cinematic achievements of the movie itself. It’s a very dated movie, and while the story holds up after almost two decades, most of the pop culture references don’t. And there are a lot of pop culture references in this film.
The dialogue is awful at its worst and just slightly off at its best, and the characters are just as flat and cliched as the urban legends they’re studying. There are a lot of stereotypes and folks who seem more like caricatures than characters in this film, but none more so than Natalie’s (played by Alicia Witt) roommate Tosh the goth (wait, seriously?) played by Danielle Harris. Harris wasn’t bad, but are the writers expecting me to believe that anyone who considered themselves goth would actually ask a chatroom if any “gothie boys” were around? Because, well, I definitely don’t believe that.
That said, I love Robert Englund and Jared Leto and so many more of the cast members of this one, so it’s hard for me to be too harsh on it. I mean, this was old-school Tara Reid and Joshua Jackson! And yes, one of the pop culture references that did land (at least for me) was the Dawson’s Creek theme song playing when Jackson’s character, Damon, turns on the car radio. Love it.
The big reveal wasn’t so surprising for me this time, since I’ve seen this several times, but I imagine it was pretty surprising the first time I saw it. I wouldn’t have fallen for most of the red herrings along the way, but I don’t think I could have predicted the outcome exactly right. I probably would have said I did, though.
This movie is a bit gory and a lot silly, but it’s thoroughly entertaining. One disclaimer, though: if you weren’t a kid or teenager in the United States in the 1990s, this movie might be a bit confusing. It relies heavily on pop culture references for its plot and character development (hey, even Robert Englund being the professor is a bit of an inside joke to horror fans).