The Legend Of Bloody Mary (2008)

DVD Cover (Lions Gate)
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Connections: Bloody Mary

Ryan has been plagued with nightmares since the night his sister Amy went missing 8 years earlier after playing the game "Bloody Mary." Amy had stumbled onto a website on the Internet (www.marked4mary.com) about a witch called Bloody Mary and a game to summon her evil spirit. Now a senior in college, Ryan is reaching a mental breaking point from the years of stress and guilt from his sisters disappearance. His girlfriend Rachel frustrated herself at Ryan's emotional distance and self pity, calls for help to a former professor of Ryan's, Father O'Neal. Father O'Neal is both a priest and a archaeologist who decides to help Ryan end his tormenting grief by using his detective skills and wit to figure out what exactly happened to Ryan's sister, and uncover the truth to the Legend of Bloody Mary. --IMDb
Paul Preiss
Paul Preiss
Robert J. Locke Jr.
Robert J. Locke Jr.
Nicole Aiken
Nicole Aiken
Brittany Miller
Brittany Miller
Rachel Taylor
Rachel Taylor
Review by Chad
Added: September 28, 2008
I've always thought that the urban legend surrounding Bloody Mary would make for a great movie if it could ever be handled properly, but time and time again, the movies based on this popular sleepover game seem to completely drop the ball. Sure, Candyman took the general idea and that film turned out to be a classic, but it's just not the same - it's sort of like wishing for a Halo movie and having someone tell you that Doom is good enough because it's the same basic principle. The trailer for The Legend of Bloody Mary looked surprisingly good, and even though it appeared as though the filmmakers "borrowed" a few ideas from The Ring and The Grudge to create their rendition of Mary, this trailer all but promised a solid night of entertainment and a decent take on, well, the legend of Bloody Mary. Boy, was I wrong: terribly, horribly wrong.

The storyline revolves around Ryan (Paul Preiss), a young college student who has been having horrible nightmares ever since his sister Amy (Rachel Taylor) disappeared after she attempted to find out if this whole Bloody Mary urban legend was real or not (hint: in this universe, it is). Ryan's girlfriend hooks him up with Father O'Neal (Robert J. Locke), an unorthodox priest who has a job on the side in archaeology, and in this particular line of work, he's discovered a mass grave from the 1600's in his very own town. The two talk for a while in an attempt to solve Ryan's issues, more and more pieces of the story surrounding that mass grave are revealed, and we have... a movie? Not quite, but we do get a bunch of flashbacks and a few ultra-cheesy montages.

Throughout the vast majority of the movie, we're treated to flashbacks from two different periods: one that explains Mary's origins, and one that shows what happened when Amy and her friends conjured the spirit of Mary with nothing more than a mirror, a candle, and some lipstick. The latter is what takes up most of the running time, and it can be basically spelled out as such: a group of teenage girls want to, like, you know, have a killer party, and like, scare everyone, and, you know, like, get revenge on the new girl who stole the popular girl's ex-boyfriend. It's decided that they'll get their revenge on her by scaring her silly with a game of Bloody Mary, things get out of hand, and poor Ryan - just a wee little lad in these flashbacks - is traumatized for life.

See, here's the problem with adapting this urban legend to film, and this is a problem that isn't exclusive to this particular film (but it is much more prevalent here): there's just not enough material to make a feature-length film. The variations on this game are endless, but the gist of it is that you stand in front of a mirror, say Mary's name a certain amount of times, and then her ghost either comes out and kills you, pulls you into the mirror and kills you, or just shows her face and causes the little ladies to wet their panties. An interesting idea? Sure. Could it work in a film? I'd like to think so. Is it enough material to stay fresh for ninety, hell, forty-five minutes? Not a chance.

So, with a lack of material, any filmmaker who attempts to tackle this subject will have to come up with some sort of story to pad out the running time, and really, I don't have a problem with that; it's to be expected, and in fact, the movie would probably suck without one. The problem with this particular film is that the story surrounding the legend isn't very good, and the actual payoff with the legend itself is lackluster to say the very least. In the first hour of the film, we learn the following: Ryan has bad dreams every night, his girlfriend is worried about him, a priest wants to help, there's a mass grave in town, Ryan's sister and her friends played the game in an attempt to get revenge on somebody who wronged them, and a sassy little lass named Mary was wronged back in the 1600's, and as such, she cursed the world at large... or at least, anybody who said her name three times in a mirror. Does that really sound like an hour's worth of material?

To be fair, the story is interesting and could have worked with more material and less padding. You've got developed characters, a plausible scenario explaining this urban legend, and a setup that - while far from original - could have been entertaining. What hurts the film is that there comes a point when you realize that the filmmakers simply ran out of ways to make the movie a feature length presentation, and when you come to said point, you're only about a third of the way through the padding. There's a scene in which two characters simultaneously yell "Play the fucking game!", and really, I couldn't have said it better myself. What we wind up with throughout the vast majority of the film is something akin to the Halloween edition of Dawson's Creek, and though that may appeal to some, I believe that most horror fans will probably be just as pissed off after sitting through this as I was.

Those of you who are at least expecting some decent scares after checking out that slick little trailer will be highly disappointed once you catch a solid glimpse of Mary Worth. You see, she comes to us in two forms: terrible CGI and a laughable Samara ripoff (you know, the creepy little girl from The Ring). She's dressed exactly like Samara was, she crawls around like Samara did, but the key difference is that this character is covered in green paint that makes her look like a kid out begging for candy on Halloween. This would be bad enough, but then she speaks... and my, how the laughter comes once you hear her voice. This voice makes that of the Leprechaun sound downright chilling by comparison, and thus, scenes which were probably supposed to be creepy are instead almost a parody of the genre.

Getting back to the CGI bit, the film is full of computer-generated moments which seem to have been created by a complete novice getting his or her feet wet with the software. Granted, some of these effects couldn't have been created on the obviously low budget without the help of computer imagery, but there are moments where these CGI effects were used simply out of laziness. Take, for example, a scene in which blood leaks out of Mary's mouth: did this really need to be done digitally? They couldn't have just put some red goop in her mouth and tell the actress to let it slowly leak out?

On the positive side... well, there's not a positive side. The film is padded to oblivion, the look and sound of Mary renders any potential scares null and void, the acting is wretched at worst and barely tolerable at best, and I'm tempted to go ahead and pay the replacement fee to Netflix so that I can shatter the disc after sitting through the most clichéd ending in horror history, an ending that spits in the face of the last thirty minutes of the film just to provide one last cheap scare. 2/10 for a few moments of inspiration, but even that might be a little too generous.
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