1998 seemed to be a sort of peak year for these teen slasher horror flicks. While 'Scream' was a large influence on so many of them, some others seemed to just sort of copy the whole idea. 'Urban Legend' happens to be one of these films. Replace movies with urban legends, a similar twist ending, and even similar dialogue, and one can easily see why this one didn't exactly do so well.
Here we have an insanely simple plot. Someone is going around, picking off college students one by one. The killer's pattern follows a series of urban legends that most people out there know pretty well - at least in some form.
As with typical teen horror of this era, the cast is lead by an obvious "survivor girl" named Natalie (Alicia Witt), who gets the help of best friend Brenda (Rebecca Gayheart), school reporter, Paul (Jared Leto) among others to try to figure out who this killer is. Of course one by one, would-be victims get theirs in pretty unoriginal ways, and it all just kinda turns into a throw-away for me.
This was a weird one for me. I've seen worse, but I know I've seen a whole lot better. For a very typical teen slasher movie, it's not exactly terrible. But that's just as long as you've come here for a lot of horror tropes. In a way, being that the kills are based on urban legends, I think even that's kinda cheap. Sure, films like 'Seven' did something similar with the sins, but 'Seven' was very unique and disturbing with what it did. This is just some killer slashing people with little to no "wow" factor. Most of these urban legends end up with some slasher scenario, as well. The kills are narrow-minded 'cause they follow a very particular path. Going back to the 'Seven' comparison, you can be very open with what you do with the concept of sin.
There is, however, a sort of guilty pleasure to this film if you're any sort of horror buff. Some of the cameos in here are better known as classic horror villains - namely, Robert Englund ('Elm Street'), playing a sort of creepy professor, Danielle Harris ('Halloween') playing Natalie's goth roommate, and Brad Dourif ('Child's Play') as a gas station attendant. I have to admit that it was kinda cool seeing these faces pop up, supposedly passing a torch to a new generation. However, it's just not enough to save the overall quality of things here.
It's all pretty predictable (at least as far as the victim list goes), badly written, and seemingly just some names slapped together to put butts in seats for a genre that was burning bright at the time. Other big teen names of the time like Tara Reid, Joshua Jackson show up as well, just to draw an audience (again, for it's time). The whole thing feels lazily put together, and a simple money grab, to me. I can honestly say I've seen worse, but I'm definitely not a fan of this one.