I managed to catch this movie two months before it's UK release, and it was quite enjoyable. The plot revolves around a young girl called Mary Banner, who is murdered at her homecoming dance. Flash forward 35 years, and high school senior Samantha and her two gal pals mysteriously disappear on the night of their homecoming dance after calling on Bloody Mary, only to turn up 3 days later unable to tell anyone what has happened to them.
It soon transpires that the football team had drugged the girls and kidnapped them to get revenge over Sam for an article she published about them in the school newspaper. Sam soon learns that the jocks had carried out their plan after learning about it from head jock Buck Jacoby's father, who had originally pulled a similar prank on Mary and her friends in 1969. Sam and her brother set about revealing the truth of what happened to Mary Banner in 1969, as the spirit of Mary sets about offing her tormentors children....the popular kids.
The film starts out really well and actually made me laugh out loud (intentionally) within the first 5 minutes. The film takes a little while to get going but it has plenty of plot threads to develop, and keeps you intrigued whilst it finds it's feet.
The beautiful snow covered Salt Lake City locations add a mysterious chill to the proceedings, and the young cast (especially Nip/Tuck star Kate Mara) are also appealing, despite all having their off moments.
Mary Lambert manages to capture a ghostly feel, and showcases some visual highlights which help give the film a glossy sheen adding to the high value feel of the finished movie.
The links to the previous Urban Legend movies feel a little forced and it's kind of unclear why Mary chooses UL's to off her prey, to the point of having to include throw away lines to remind the audience that the kills were based on popular myths.
The film does showcase some sick deaths and a number of disgusting moments, as well as one of the creepier myths involving someone's pet pooch.
The practical effects worked really well and I would even go so far as to say that the CGI elements were pretty good too. One sequence involving spiders wasn't as well developed as it could have been, but to be fair they tried to use practical effects but the spiders were too cold to function. The scene is well executed without the spiders however, so it still works.
The film felt very different to the other entries in the series but it was kind of refreshing, despite taking ideas from (amongst others) 'Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II' and 'The Ring'. It has genuine laughs, some creepy moments, a solid score and a few unexpected and nasty moments to boot.
In all, this is a well made little chiller that gives horror fans everything they would want in a Friday night fright flick; gore, giggles and ghoulish behavior. I couldn't decide if I liked it more than part two, but I definitely appreciate the effort more as this makes no attempt to deny what it is, and that is a horror movie.