Tag Archives: Urban Legends: Bloody Mary

Resurrecting ‘Urban Legends: Bloody Mary’

There’s no denying that the first two movies in the Urban Legend (1998) series are well-loved in the horror genre. However, the third film, Urban Legends: Bloody Mary (2005), was a direct-to-video supernatural entry that often gets a lot of hate for stepping away from the slasher genre and trying to take the series in a different direction.

Directed by Mary Lambert (Pet Sematary, Pet Sematary Two), Urban Legends: Bloody Mary heads back to the female rage and revenge-fueled roots of the first film. At the 1969 homecoming dance, we see Mary Banner (Lillith Fields) on a date with football player Willy (Daniel B. Culmer) — also attending are friends Grace (Charlene Baptista) and Gina (Haley McCormick). What seems like the beginning of a love story soon turns into a cruel prank as it turns out Willy and his teammates intend to drug the girls and dump them in the woods. However, Mary, having avoided the spiked punch, figures out what’s going on and flees.

“She’s still sober, she’ll squeal!” Willy shouts as he takes off after her. Eventually, cornering her in the school’s basement, Willy doesn’t take too kindly to Mary fighting him. There is a brief scuffle, with Willy striking Mary as she tries to defend herself. In the commotion, Mary falls and violently bangs her head on the way down. Believing her to be dead and unwilling to let a prank ruin his life, Willy hides her body in a trunk and leaves.

Over 30 years later, Mary’s story has become an urban legend. Sam (Kate Mara) and her friends even discuss it as they skip their homecoming dance in favor of a sleepover. Because Sam expressed her distaste for the football team and their lack of academic effort in a school newspaper article, the three girls have been blacklisted. Chatting about the local legend of Mary leads the girls to discuss wider-known urban legends. They talk about getting crushed by candy machines and the infamous Bloody Mary, who haunts you if you say her name three times in a mirror. Sam jokingly chants Bloody Mary as she falls asleep, and we see Mary’s ghostly apparition awaken, sparking a connection between the two women.

When Sam’s brother David (Robert Vito) goes to wake the girls in the morning, he finds them missing. After a few days, the girls turn up unharmed. Sam explains that the football team drugged them and locked them in an abandoned mill. Sam has already received backlash and abuse due to her newspaper article, so she doesn’t go to the authorities for fear of further repercussions. And it’s this sense of isolation, injustice, and shared trauma that connects Sam and Mary.

Sam saying Mary’s name is what woke her spirit, but it’s the shared circumstances that cause Mary to reach out to Sam for help. Mary saw what happened to Sam the night she was awakened and how similar it was to her own abuse, and she is outraged that the pattern continues 30 years later. Knowing nothing has changed, Mary decides to get her revenge on those involved in her death by targeting their children. As an older Grace (Tina Lifford) explains, “The children will always suffer the sins of their fathers.” She believes that Mary is upset that her youth was taken from her, and so she is intent on taking the students’ youth rather than going after the guilty parents.

As she has become nothing more than an urban legend herself, Mary leans into local mythology to stage some pretty elaborate death scenes. This switch into the realm of the supernatural allows Urban Legends: Bloody Mary to explore urban legend deaths that weren’t possible in a slasher movie, such as being electrocuted when peeing on an electric fence. Heather (Audra Lea Keener), Sam’s ex-best friend and the daughter of one of Mary’s attackers, has one of the most horrific deaths in the whole series. Heather is bitten by a spider in her sleep, and after mistaking the bite for a spot, she tries to squeeze it. After hundreds of spiders burst their way out of the bite, Heather falls into a mirror and ends up with glass shards in her face. In the resulting panic, she peels most of the skin off her face and bleeds to death on the floor. 

There’s no doubt that the CGI spiders look incredibly dated here, but to write this scene off purely because of that is dismissing the wonder of this death scene. The hate and rage pouring out of Mary is extraordinary, and we find out Mary is so angry because she wasn’t dead when Willy locked her in the trunk. She woke later, screaming and clawing, until she eventually died. Since no one came forward about that night, and no one found her, she’s taking her rage out on the whole town. 

Much like Mary and her friends, Sam finds herself being blamed for her abduction. Students start avoiding her at school, parents say she brought it on herself, and even the police think it was a joke the girls played on their parents. They would rather victim-blame than investigate too much and discover the most popular and well-respected members of their community are really to blame. The only person that respects Sam’s trauma is Mary herself, and the more isolated Sam feels, the stronger her visions of Mary become. 

Mary picks Sam as her connection to the real world because Sam is more likely to believe Mary due to her own attack. They are the perfect pair to team up so that Mary’s attackers will finally get what they deserve, but also to ensure it doesn’t happen again. Mary wants to help break the generational curses that exist in their town to keep the women safe. And to also let the football team know their popularity doesn’t give them the right to terrorize people.

Thanks to the visions Mary sends her, Sam uncovers Mary’s body in the school. Hoping to provide Mary with some peace, Sam drives her body to the graveyard in Grace’s van to bury her. En route, Sam calls her stepdad Bill (Ed Marinaro) to help her. She trusts him, and he’s running for mayor, so he can’t possibly be a bad guy, right? However, it turns out Bill is none other than Willy, and he is hell-bent on keeping his involvement in Mary’s death quiet. After killing Sam’s brother David, Bill heads to the graveyard to take care of Sam as well. 

It would be pointless for Mary to come after Bill’s family to punish him, as he’s willing to kill his step-children himself to remain innocent. He will always take the selfish route. This is the last straw for Mary, whose spirit rises from the grave and finally confronts Willy. She kisses him goodbye, and then a supernatural explosion of her rage and pain ripples out of her, killing Willy in the process. This is the release that Mary has needed for the past 30 years. She can finally let go of everything that has tethered her to this world and pass on, knowing that justice has been served; Willy has not only been punished but also publicly outed as a murderer.

It may not be the most-loved Urban Legend movie, but Urban Legends: Bloody Mary has something incredibly important to say. Though Mary is the killer, she is never portrayed as a villain. Instead, the focus is on her and Sam teaming up to uncover the true horrors which are lurking in this suburban town.