An attractive young woman is driving her car on a dark country road and singing along to the radio. She's running out of gas and so she pulls into a gas station (run by a jittery, stuttering Brad Dourif) but then flees what seems to be an attack, only to find the real threat in her backseat: a hooded killer with an axe who takes her head off with a well-aimed swing. You've heard the story before? Not surprising, given that it's one of the more famous urban legends borrowed for Urban Legend
, a post-Scream
exercise in self-referential horror. The students at an ivy-covered New England college are turning up dead, the victims of a serial killer who murders in the fashion of the "apocryphal" modern myths. It's all for the benefit of good girl with a dark secret Alicia Witt, the sole witness to most of the killings. Doe-eyed Rebecca Gayheart, as her gullible best friend, and Jared Leto, the ambitious campus journalist who tracks down the secret that hangs over the school, lead a cast of pretty young women, hunky guys and campus characters, notably the suspicious professor Robert Englund, a genre legend in his own right as the star of seven Nightmare on Elm Street
films. Take away the cheeky remarks and self-awareness and it's a throwback to the 1970s' rash of teen slasher movies, where sexually active teens are sliced, diced and otherwise slaughtered in elaborate and ingenious ways. The increasingly preposterous film is no Scream
but the modestly stylish production has its moments. --Sean Axmaker
When a bizarre series of deaths occur on the campus of Pendleton college, student Natalie (Alicia Witt) starts to believe that they are somehow linked to various urban legends. Her classmates are dismissive, claiming that the deaths are just freak coincidences, but as Natalie investigates more closely she realises that not only is there a sinister pattern behind the murders, but she may well be the next victim.