A reboot of 1998 slasher flick Urban Legend is going ahead, to be directed by Grave Encounters’ Colin Minihan. The story follows the members of a university folklore class who become targeted by a killer recreating tales from contemporary mythology.
The movie was one of multiple slasher films released in the wake of Scream that led to a resurgence in the subgenre along with postmodern metafictional satire of it. It wasn’t received fondly by critics, but made a reasonable profit at the box office and is now considered something of a cult classic among horror fans.
Unlike many remakes, this new Urban Legend won’t be a completely uninspired retread and will update the concept for a modern audience by utilizing myths that perpetuate online. As the official description puts it, it will feature “urban legends linked to the darkest corners of social media.” This means that tales such as the Killer in the Backseat, a dead roommate discovered accompanied by “Aren’t you glad you didn’t turn on the light?” scrawled on the wall in her blood, and scratching sounds on the roof of a car being the scraping feet of a hanged corpse will likely be left behind in favor of the fast-changing pace of online mythmaking.
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The folklore of the internet affords a myriad of possibilities to choose from and hopefully build a coherent narrative around. A few include the Momo Challenge, where children and teenagers are contacted by the titular WhatsApp user to perform violent acts on themselves and others with the threat of reprisal the punishment for refusal; Jeff the Killer, a teenager who gains a taste for violence and murder after defending himself from bullies a little too successfully; or the Russian Sleep Experiment, where World War II POWs are driven to insanity after being deprived of sleep.
Although remakes are often – and sometimes justifiably – met with instant derision, the vast scope of the Urban Legend concept could well have the potential to launch a new and compelling franchise while introducing the original to a younger audience.