This horror movie is simply bad to the bone

Review: `Bones' just doesn't get to the meat of what makes a smart, gripping fright film.

October 24, 2001|By Chris Kaltenbach | Chris Kaltenbach,SUN MOVIE CRITIC

Three dogs are front-and-center in Bones, a horror flick about a bad house in a bad neighborhood full of really bad vibes. One's an actual canine, a black-furred, red-eyed beast that growls a lot and looks menacing. One's a rapper-turned-actor, Snoop Dogg, who scowls a lot and looks menacing.

And one's the film itself.

Not only that, but it's a mean-spirited, gruesome, brain-dead dog of a film that thinks the height of horror is watching a guy eat pizza garnished with a few unsuspecting maggots. Gross, yes, but scary?

Hey, in some cultures, maggots are quite the delicacy - which would make Bones something of a gourmet feast, so filled is it with crawling little baby flies.

But as a horror film, this is strictly hack stuff, a bunch of good-looking teens stalked by evil, unseen forces intent on wreaking havoc and unleashing hell on Earth. Oh, yawn.

Led by Patrick (photogenic but charisma-free Khalil Kain), the four teens - two brothers, their stepsister and a friend - decide to make a name for themselves by opening a nightclub in an abandoned building in the most deprived, depraved area of town. Despite ominous warnings from the neighbors (who could have ended this movie at the 15-minute mark by speaking plainly, maybe saying something like, "Yo, man, this place is haunted by a hell demon"), they forge ahead with their plans.

My goodness, that's a bad move. See, something bad happened in this house back in 1979, and we're not talking about the fashions that were popular 22 years ago. To say what exactly would give away too much; suffice to say this was once the headquarters of one Jimmy Bones (Snoop Dogg), a small-time hood who fancied himself the benevolent despot of the neighborhood. He looked out for his fellas, you know, had their best interests at heart, said no to drugs.

But Jimmy came to a bad end, and it's his ticked-off spirit that lives on in the house. When these kids show up, he sees an opportunity for revenge.

Several familiar faces pop up in Bones, including Pam Grier as the neighborhood seer whose daughter is unlucky enough to fall in love with Patrick and take up residence in the house, and Michael T. Weiss (TV's The Pretender) as a sleaze ball in one of cinema's least convincing prosthetic masks. All should seek better work elsewhere.

Sure, it looks good in spots, and Snoop Dogg has a menacing presence that works to his character's advantage (though how much he can act is still an open question). But there's too much in Bones that simply doesn't make sense, beginning with how Patrick and his cohorts were able to buy the house in the first place. And director Ernest Dickerson tries shifting tones about halfway through, injecting over-the-top gallows humor (in the form of a pair of talking decapitated heads) in a film that has thus far been dead-on serious.

Regrettably, Bones is what passes for horror these days: Throw a lot of graphic, gore-filled, darkly lit stuff on the screen, and see what sticks. Discerning moviegoers should pass on the opportunity.


Starring Snoop Dogg, Pam Grier, Khalil Kain

Directed by Ernest Dickerson

Rated R (language, horror, gore)

Released by New Line Cinema

Running time 92 minutes

Sun score * 1/2

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