Film Monthly Home
Short Takes (Archived)
Small Screen Monthly
Behind the Scenes
New on DVD
Books on Film
What's Hot at the Movies This Week
The Legend of Bloody Mary
Directed by John Stecenko
Written by Dominick R. Domingo, John Stecenko
Starring Paul Preiss, Robert J. Locke, Caitlin Wachs, Nicole Aiken
Produced by Robert Ahrens
The Legend of Bloody Mary proves to be an object lesson in truly bad timing.
Based at least tangentially on the legend of Bloody Mary (hence the title), it’s basically the story of the legend in a world where this kind of thing actually happens. And of course when the legend gets to its absolute extension, the result is predictable enough and a demon / monster / ghost / something or other that lives in the mirror starts turning kids into hamburger. Because, of course, you never see grown men and women chanting into mirrors so they’d never get pulled into a mirror by that demon / ghost / monster whatever-thing.
The legend, which has been told a number of different ways over the years, in this case basically requires kids to write the names of themselves and anyone else they want to “mark” for Mary’s vengeance on a mirror, say “I believe in Mary Worth” a few times and then wait. The killings begin directly after. I’ve heard it go a few ways myself—the legend that was big back in my day required you to tell the mirror—rather, tell Bloody Mary—that you were the one who killed her son. At the third repetition of this admission she’d jump out and kill you.
Needless to say, she did not kill anyone who tried this—and even I might have tried it in the cheerful idiocy of my boyhood—as there were plenty of people around to tell the tale.
But anyway, back to the movie, which alternates between kids playing the game built on the legend in flashback, a priest trying to explain a parishioner’s nightmares, and flashbacks even farther back showing the original story behind the legend. Which means we’re dealing with about two layers of flashbacks here, and that’s enough to make the story a little confusing unless you’re paying careful attention.
And remember what I said about this being a study in bad timing? Yeah…the problem is that this is going to be compared, and not without reason, to recent release Mirrors. When your big bad lives in the mirror and favors snatching people inside it,not to mention is able to influence the movements of others via the manipulation of their mirror images it’s pretty safe to say, hmm…this has kinda been done already. Makes me wonder if Fox is going to hunt up Lions Gate for this….
The ending is actually kind of lousy—when they explain what actually needs to be done to solve the problem, do something different that still manages to solve the problem (how do I know? Bloody Mary actually thanks the main character before the last detail is accomplished. The problem was solved at that point), and then tack on the last detail just so they visibly cover their tracks, you know there’s a serious problem with the narrative. Worse yet, they’ll go for a twist ending on top of it, after the problem’s been solved!
The special features include featurettes with commentary, a section of “Bloody Mary Testimonials,” which intermingles parts of the movie with people talking about their own Bloody Mary tangles, audio options, a commentary track, English and Spanish subtitles, and trailers for The Legend of Bloody Mary, Unemployed, The Morgue, Artifacts, Restraint, and Dead and Gone.
All in all, bad timing and an unnecessarily complicated script bring The Legend of Bloody Mary down to just slightly less than mediocre. They tried to do too much with entirely too little and they’re paying for it with a poor-grade movie.
Steve Anderson is a film critic who collects action figures so he can dress them up as his favorite horror villains. He lives somewhere in the United States.
Got a problem? E-mail us at email@example.com