Shiny Shelf

Urban Legends: Bloody Mary DVD

By Chrys Hudson Lee on 28 October 2005

In one of those depressing turns of misfortune only Hollywood can marshal, it’s a real shame the Urban Legend franchise never took off with graceful aptitude, given that the original film combined all the best elements of the Scream template with a great body count premise. Predictably, it was roasted by the critics who felt it was one slasher flick too many. Despite the healthy profit it turned, the sequel it eventually generated had little to do with the original intentions and only scraped only enough revenue to break even.

And so the third movie – bearing even less of a connection to the first two – lands on video. Directed by Mary Lambert, who gave us the creepy Stephen King adaptation Pet Sematary and is-it-or-isn’t-it horror pic The In-Crowd, Bloody Mary is built around the popular Stateside myth of the dead girl whose name can be chanted three times in front of a mirror to summon her.

When three anti-populist high school girls are the victim of a particularly horrible kidnapping prank at the hands of a group of football jocks (mirroring the circumstances surrounding the disappearance of Mary Banner thirty-five years before), teenager Samantha begins to suspect there’s a supernatural entity offing the culprits. The nasty popular kids are being murdered via an overdose of bad tanning, peeing on an electric fence, the old ‘people can lick too’ tale and, most gorily, CGI spiders bursting out of one poor girl’s face.

The first half of Bloody Mary is a great beyond-the-grave revenge film with nicely drawn central characters and a quick succession of inventive malevolent deaths. It’s competently pieced together by an established horror director and most importantly a lot of fun. It’s the Scooby Doo-type investigation that begins to drag however, and once all of the doomed teens are laid to waste there’s a long gap of murder-free horror movie clichés, with Samantha trying to find Mary’s body and give it a decent burial to put an end to the reign of terror, whilst solving a decades old mystery in the process.

The collegiate goings-on that took place in Urban Legends: Final Cut get a brief mention, and those who immediately pointed out the Candyman similarities are put right, but the urban myth hook feels like it’s been forced into place to join the dots. Indeed, internet ‘legends’ state it was initially intended to be an entirely independent production. Even so, on its own it’s doubtful the film would have gotten very far.

When compared to the first two theatrically released films it’s easy to view Bloody Mary as a cheap quickie dredged up to fill out the DVD box set – it’s naturally inferior given the standards of the (already) underrated series openers. However, it’s still too good to have been dumped straight on to the video shelves, despite being unlikely to have packed them into the aisles. As it stands, while the idea of ‘an urban legend serial killer’ is a series which should, by rights, be generating sequel after sequel, the actual result sits somewhere uneasily in the middle.

Line Break

By Chrys Hudson Lee

Comments are closed.