Urban Legends: Bloody Mary (2005)

Kate Mara is a surefire saving grace for “Bloody Mary” as she turns a potentially annoying and whiny heroine into a sympathetic and highly entertaining central character. She has an innocence and genuine charisma to her that makes this film rise above a typical horror sequel, and I cared about her journey. All the clues and hints to the potential unveiling of Mary’s next targets always worked for me, and Mara really had me right there with her, wondering what surprises were next.

And there’s also Tina Lifford was fun as Grace, the afroed survivor of the opening scene’s attacks which rendered her a recluse and a rather dated relic of her time. Lifford is a lot of fun as Grace, and she’s really a very good accomplice to Mara’s character until the end. Equally, the climax brings everything together well with Marinaro playing a real prick rather competently. I never really expected him to take such an active role in spite of the twist I saw coming, and the final twenty minutes make for some damn good horror entertainment. In spite of feeling too much like a “Final Destination” take off, I did like the integrations of the urban legends in some of the kills, the most gruesome of which were the spiders laying eggs in one of the character’s faces.

It’s a great little urban legend that turns into a disgusting sequence. The producers for “Bloody Mary” pretty much took the exact formula from “Prom Night” and injected it into this rather lame sequel to two rather abysmal films. They had nowhere else to go with the corny slasher flicks that came before it, so instead they bring us a supernatural spin that takes a vicious female and makes her the antagonist to haunt our brain dead teenagers. Hell, the opening even sets down circa the sixties. Basically in the same ilk as “Tamara,” Mary Banner is a bit of a reject that is taken to the prom by a popular high school jock. On the way out, Mary is drugged and led away only to discover she’s being snared in a plot of rape. Attempting to escape, she’s chased into the school and a vicious accident leaves her dead.

Covering up the murder, the players involved in Mary’s death soon suffer the wrath of Bloody Mary. Quite obviously only named “Bloody Mary,” the writing team of Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris create a pretty vicious little horror flick that is never as good as it can be. For all the gore and extreme violence, “Bloody Mary” is a typical direct to video that is included in the “Urban Legends” franchise only by shoe horned passive references to the previous films. Like “Candyman,” three of our heroines accidentally summon Bloody Mary who may or may not be the reincarnation of the Mary who suffered a fate with a glass shard in the opening. I was never too clear on that aspect.

Meanwhile, it prides itself on basing all the deaths and basic concept on urban legends, but it really feels like nothing but a “Final Destination” rip-off. You have to appreciate that the writers made every death dependant on urban legends like being cooked in a tanning bed, and spiders laying eggs on people’s faces, but Bloody Mary the demon plays much of her carnage on the whole accidental death based on human stupidity hook that was pretty much covered in all three “Final Destination” films, thus it all sadly feels so weak and lifted.

“Bloody Mary” is not the worst movie on video store shelves as many people have claimed, but it’s just not effective enough to ever be anything more than a simple horror movie about urban legends. It just feels like it’s trying to be more than one thing, so it tries to be a revenge movie, a ghost movie, and an urban legend horror film all at once. And really gets in way over its head, in the process. It’s an individual horror film with the “Urban Legends” tag slapped on it, as seems to be the case for many studios to cut corners these days, but “Bloody Mary” is just a good enough horror film in spite of all of its flaws, saved by the strong performances of Tina Lifford and cutie patootie Kate Mara. I’d definitely see it again if I ever came across it.