This movie is kind of a late 90’s horror movie that I’m unsure how I feel about. It’s not good but it’s also not bad? It doesn’t reach the “so bad it’s good” category either. When I first saw it I liked it but I was also only 14 years old and it was the first horror movie I saw in theaters so cut me some slack. It has good elements to it but upon rewatching it after many years I can’t figure out if there’s really anything I enjoyed about it other than nostalgia. That and the fact that Robert Englund is in it and how can you not like that guy? Because it’s illegal to not like him. In any case, here I will review the movie and it won’t be spoiler free so get ready for a breakdown.
This movie is about well…urban legends. Kind of. The title is a bit misleading. There’s a killer who kills people in the style of urban legends. It starts with a girl driving in her car and she runs out of gas. It’s storming because, yay cliches, and she gets to some kind of backwoods gas station. She’s young, college student, which becomes clear once we meet the main characters and see they are all in college. Anyway, the gas station attendant is super creepy but just a red herring. The actual killer is in the backseat of the car. You know, just like in the urban legend, but this girl is so scared of the gas station man she speeds off before he can tell her. He’s having problems telling her because he has a convenient stutter to slow down the plot. It’s moments like this that make you painfully aware that the characters are in a movie. A lot of this set up absolutely wouldn’t work in real life to tell a story. The killer would have had to have known the girl would pull over for gas, be creeped out by the attendant, and then speed off while the guy yelled trying to warn her (and also that he had a stutter). Okay moving on.
It cuts to a college somewhere in the middle of someplace (fake college is fake) and then the two main characters. Natalie and Brenda. It’s quickly shown that Natalie was friends with the girl who died in the opening scene. She keeps on being victim to weird ass deaths that center around the plot of several well known urban legends. Except, anytime she goes to report these crimes either a body isn’t found or there is some kind of clunky narrative to explain the deaths. For example, her roommate is found dead and on the wall are the words “Aren’t you glad you didn’t turn on the lights”. This is because Natalie comes in there and thinks her cranky and annoying roommate is having sex so she doesn’t turn on the lights but actually she’s being murdered. The next morning is when she sees the message. The police and school talk about how the girl was always super depressed (which should be TOTALLY obvious because she’s the most 90’s goth type girl you will ever see) and say that the words on the wall are just some kind of morbid suicide note.
There is some sort of sub-plot about the school having a massacre there years before on Halloween or something (I dunno) and it kind of points you in the direction of professor Baxter (who is played by the wonderful Robert Englund). There are a lot of “hint” dropped trying to lead you to the conclusion that the killer is him. That is until he gets killed. I think? Yeah, I’m pretty sure he dies, it’s been a while, but the point is he’s not the killer and it’s obvious because this smells like red herring a mile away when you watch it.
While all of this is going on there is some sort of party or something to celebrate the massacre or whatever and we find out about Natalie and her friend from the beginning. Apparently when they were younger they caused someone to get in a car crash by playing around with an older urban legend. The one about gang initiations and flashing headlights at a car then chasing them down. They survived the crash but the innocent guy didn’t. Natalie becomes somewhat aware that someone is coming after her due to this, possibly.
In the end, it turns out that it’s her “friend” Brenda because the guy who died in the car crash those few years ago was Brenda’s fiance. This caused her to go all sorts of psychotic and start to kill the shit out of Natalie’s friends. At the end, she falls off of a really high up bridge. Presumably, is killed. That is until they cut to a scene where it’s apparently college kids telling this story and Brenda is there but with a different look (hair is straightened) and she tells them that she knows the real story and how it really happened. End of movie.
As I said, I’m not sure what to think of it. It’s not great but it’s better than some of the crap which is out there even now. At least it attempted to be original and had the rare occurrence of a woman as a serial killer. There are pop-culture references that younger people today would never get. I’m not even sure if they’d know about most of these urban legends because of how dated they are. It’s definitely an entertaining movie, if only because it’s so easy to make fun of. I can’t say it’s scary, though, and even with all the death it’s still not nearly as gory as current day movies. I’m lukewarm on this one and probably only like it because of that whole “remember when horror movies were good” thing? Except with this one, I’m aware I’m looking back with rose colored glasses and can actually see it for what it is, and all of its numerous flaws.