Coming towards the end of the teen horror craze, "Urban Legend" offers a few decent scares, but otherwise seems like a tag-along that's late to the party. Directed by Jamie Blanks, "Urban Legends" stars the underrated Alicia Witt as Natalie, a college student attending a small college in the Northeast. Many years prior, a teacher went on a rampage at the school, and - not long after Natalie steps onto the campus 25 years later - bodies start piling up once again.
Natalie tries to figure out who's behind it all, as she and friends Paul (Jared Leto), Parker (Michael Rosenbaum), Damon (Joshua Jackson), Brenda (Rebecca Gayheart), and Sasha (Tara Reid) are stalked by an unknown foe. As the events unfold, Natalie begins to realize that the villain is staging the crimes in the form of "urban legends".
While the movie is ultimately rather predictable (its use of genre cliches and shock chords on the soundtrack do not exactly help matters much), at least it does make a passable attempt to try and throw out enough twists to try and keep audiences on their toes and guessing who's behind it all. The movie does certainly shift around the potential blame, putting the focus on characters like Paul or, especially, the eerie professor who teaches Professor Wexler (Robert Englund).
"Urban Legend" does offer rather stylish 'scope cinematography and manages some mild tension during a few stretches. The performances are something of a mixed bag, as while the production was lucky to get Witt, who offers an engaging effort that does an excellent job giving depth to what would have otherwise been a one-dimensional character. Rosenbaum, Leto, John Neville and Englund also add fine supporting efforts into the mix. On the other hand, Reid offers a flat effort, while Gayheart goes overboard and Jackson seems disinterested.
Overall, "Urban Legend" offers a few scares and tense moments, as well as some decent performances. Still, the material remains very uneven, relying on cliches and mostly one-dimensional characters.
VIDEO: "Urban Legend" is presented by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment in 2.35:1 (1080p/AVC). The Blu-Ray presentation is an improvement over the DVD release, although not by leaps or bounds. Sharpness and detail do see mild improvement, as the picture appeared crisp and well-defined throughout the show. Depth to the image also does appear mildly stronger this time around, as well.
The presentation does suffer from a few slight instances of edge enhancement and artifacting, but otherwise remained crisp and clean. On a positive note, no print flaws were spotted and colors remained bright, well-saturated and cleanly presented. Black level remained strong, while flesh tones looked accurate. Subtitles are offered in Arabic, Dutch, French, English, Indonesian, Korean, Thai, Spanish, Chinese, Portuguese and English SDH.
SOUND: The film is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1. The film does make mild use of the surrounds at times throughout the film. While this is frequently to provide "shock chords" and other sudden noises, there is also a fair amount of creepy ambience and other details coming from the rear speakers. Audio quality was fine, as dialogue remained natural, while effects were punchy and well-recorded. Portuguese and French TrueHD 5.1 presentations are also offered, and we also get Thai and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 audio options.
EXTRAS: Director Jamie Blanks, actor Michael Rosenbaum and writer Silvio Horta offer up an enjoyable commentary track for the picture, as the trio cracks jokes while providing a good deal of insight into what the filmmakers were trying to attempt with the picture. The trio keep the discussion fast and funny, and while I didn't care for the film, I do still find this an above-average commentary. We also get a "making of" featurette for the film and promos for other titles from the studio.
Final Thoughts: "Urban Legend" may have some noticable issues and the picture isn't a standout in the genre, the cast is decent and the picture does manage some style and a few scares. The Blu-Ray doesn't offer demo quality audio/video, but the presentation does see some noticable improvement over the DVD.
The Film C