- Alicia Witt as Natalie Simon
- Jared Leto as Paul Gardner
- Rebecca Gayheart as Brenda Bates
- Michael Rosenbaum as Parker Riley
- Joshua Jackson as Damon Brooks
- Tara Reid as Sasha Thomas
- John Neville as Dean Adams
- Robert Englund as Professor Wexler
It is a largely derivative of the success of Scream and it does show, but Urban Legend has enough good touches and competent cast to make it stop have a scare factor and fun.
A young girl from Pendleton University is brutally killed by a hooded man carrying an axe in her car, while heading back to campus. The campus is rocked by the murder, especially the studious Natalie Simon, who knew the girl killed and had significant events occur with her in the past. As another body turns up and the students get increasingly concerned about their safety, Natalie starts to form a link between the murders and the urban legends she has heard about in one of her classes, taught by the menacing Professor Wexler. Her classmates, in particular best friend Brenda and ambitious journalist for the paper Paul( who is always looking for a story) discredit her claims as just a matter of grisly coincidence. But Natalie has stumbled on to something indeed and it may just link to an alleged slaying that happened at the university decades before, but was never proven. As the killer continues the violent deaths based around urban legends, it is up to Natalie, who aided by Paul, must unmask the violent psychopath before anyone else dies in this ritualistic way. But with all the panic and so many people who it could be, is Natalie really going to be able to do this without getting herself killed in the process?
Jamie Blanks, who later went on to direct the better than expected Valentine, does some pretty good work in cloaking the movie in a spooky vibe. This is especially true of the muted colour scheme that renders the nighttime sequences in a blue haze that is very creepy as the killer prowls. And the opening scene of the film where the first victim is killed during a thunderstorm and sets in motion further death is a good way to start this kind of film. The script however is pretty problematic in many areas, not least the fact that the aforementioned Scream hangs over the film and shows this up as something of a copy. It does have some very suspenseful scenes in it and some of the humour is employed with spark, but it just starts to feel a bit inferior after a while. And later on in the film, the humour becomes a little bit much and doesn’t hit that jackpot due to the feeling of being stale. Don’t mistake this as that I didn’t like Urban Legend, in fact I enjoyed quite a lot of it, I merely found it to be a little too reliant on jump scares and the fact that it couldn’t measure up to Scream. For all the flaws it has, Urban Legend still has entertainment value and some of the story, in particular the gory methods of dispatch and how they link to stories that people dismiss as made up is realised with a good degree of inventiveness. An impressive score from Christopher Young boosts Urban Legend up a few notches with how effective it revels in the terror on show.
The characters in Urban Legend are nothing really new and are pretty much the people you expect in a generic slasher film. Still, the cast works well with what they are given. Alicia Witt is well cast as the main focal point that is Natalie, who becomes the first to piece the links between the urban legends and murders together. Witt hits the right notes of worry, strength and concealed pain, that plays an important role in how her character acts as she has something that she hides behind her smile. She may not be such an innocent girl, but she is the most accessible character which suits the acting of Alicia Witt very well. The charms of Jared Leto are displayed in his performance as the journalist guy who isn’t quite as cynical, hard-nosed or sneaky as he at first seems to be. Rebecca Gayheart is sparky as the flirting best friend, while Joshua Jackson and Michael Rosenbaum rise above the lack of material for them by playing the practical joker and jerks of campus in a good manner. Tara Reid suffers from a one note part( and performance) that gives her scant to do but be overtly sexy and then die horrifically. John Neville and horror icon Robert Englund add dashes of maturity and creepy experience as respectively the dean and the teacher who speaks of the urban legends that the killer seems to enact.
So so it isn’t original and not quite as hip as it looks to think, yet Urban Legend is far from a bad movie because it does have significant entertainment to be gleaned from the clichéd story.