Been There, Seen That
Critics have long accused Hollywood studios of making the same predictable formula movies over and over again. Screenwriters are also criticized for borrowing too heavily from someone else's successful film in the same genre. While that assessment may be harsh, it does apply to a considerable bulk of films released each year, especially where horror and slasher films are concerned. Almost everything that has worked or was original in the past gets lifted, repackaged, and remounted with each new horror film. True, there are always a few original and great exceptions to the rule -- but Urban Legends: Bloody Mary cannot be considered among them.
Straight-to-video horror sludge is often meant to capitalize on the success of prior theatrical releases in a series. Urban Legends: Bloody Mary emerges as one of those movies. It's a poorly acted, directed and scripted sequel to Urban Legend and Urban Legends: Final Cut, which both grossed a ton of money but were nothing more than critical and cinematic bombs revisiting familiar horror movie territory -- as does this latest sequel.
Urban Legends: Bloody Mary is not always funny, but when it is, it's for all the wrong reasons. In fact, this film could end up as a cult classic for including the dumbest-of-all scenes in recent memory. A ditzy blonde kills off Roger, one of the hero's group of friends, by spending too much time on the phone yacking instead of monitoring the tanning bed he's in. For a few minutes here, the movie becomes a campy comedy.
Urban Legends Bloody Mary is another version of the first two films with only the names of the characters and 10% of the movie changed. When it boils down to plot devices, the film always goes back to the same old theme of urban legends people believe are true.
In this sequel, a group of friends, including our hero Samantha (Kate Mara), share urban legend horror stories at a slumber party. Suddenly, one begins telling a story they know to be true. It's about three girls who were drugged in 1969 by members of the football team at a school dance, then taken to an abandoned barn and left there to wake up after suffering abuse at the hands of their tormentors.
All of the victims except a girl named Mary come back. It's believed she struggled for years with her captor before dying a long and painful death. Hell-bent on revenge, so the legend goes, she can be summoned by looking in a mirror and chanting "Bloody Mary" three times in a row.
It is all pretty hokey, predictable, and downhill from there. One of girls chants "Bloody Mary" three times into a mirror and inadvertantly sets this movie in motion. As in the Scream franchise and other such movies, a series of violent murders take place, each one more gruesome than the last. And it looks as though our killer has decided to leave a calling card here with all the murders tracing back to an urban legend itself. Neither Samantha, her friends, nor her brother David (Robert Vito) know exactly what's going on. Is someone carrying a bizzare high school prank to deadly extremes? Is Bloody Mary back from the dead? Nobody knows.
This movie is a flat, one-note ripoff of several popular slasher films. Even worse, it's not the least bit scary. The hype surrounding such films is dying down, and teens are spending less money on them. After what happened to the the less-than-stellar Ring 2, why haven't filmmakers learned this lesson?
(Released by Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment and rated "R" for strong violence and gore, drug use and some language.)