Urban Legend (1998)

(On TV, December 2001) The worst thing about being a cinephile is how, from time to time, you’ll watch a terrible film playing on TV just for the sake of having seen it. The second-worst thing is to rationalize it by thinking that you’re filling in an important blank in the historical context of a given sub-genre. Because that’s the only way to consider Urban Legend important; as a historical representative of the late-nineties post-Scream teen-slasher genre. As such, it’s not half bad: A few of the lead actresses are striking, and the death scenes are ingenious in a Rube-Goldberg fashion. The identity of the killer is complete nonsense, but at least it doesn’t feel pulled-out-of-a-hat like in other movies. There is a strong degree of self-reference (from Robert Englund as a teacher to a reference to “the Noxema girl”), but don’t let that fool you in thinking the film is clever. If, on the other hand, you’ve overdosed on the violent pornographic structure of these movies, well, Urban Legend will only disgust you even more. Destined to cultural oblivion, hurrah!

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