|The Halloween season brings a number of treats: nippy weather, high-glucose treats, fistfights in costume stores. But it also brings the mixed blessing of horror flicks. Some of them, like From Hell, are spooky and unnerving and great, and can be enjoyed year-round. Most are a fun way to indulge that bizarre human urge to be scared shitless by something that can't actually hurt you. And some, like Bones, are crap that couldn't have been released at any other time of year---and shouldn't have been released at all. Guess which one we saw this weekend?
You might not recognize the name Bones, because it's generally been referred to as "the Snoop Dogg horror movie." That description alone was enough to get us into the theater; it had "Bad Film" written all over it, and we're a sucker for Bad Film. What we didn't plan on was an hour and a half of Lame Film, which is nowhere near as entertaining.
Bones drones through the story of Jimmy Bones, a 1979 South Central neighborhood bigshot who dressed like a pimp but apparently made a relatively clean living off of gambling. Jimmy was generous, soulful and loved by Pam Grier---which is always how you can tell who's the good guy in a blaxploitation movie. But when Jimmy refused to expand his operation into the crack business, he was killed in his big Gothic manse. From that night on, Jimmy's spirit haunts the house, mostly in the form of a big ol' dog---GET IT?!---with glowing red eyes.
Predictably, a gaggle of multi-racial kids decide to buy Jimmy's dilapidated crib and turn it into a hip-hop club. Jimmy's ghost doesn't cotton to this idea, but makes the most out of it, scaring the bejeezus out of the kids while continuing to seek revenge on the men that killed him. Along the way, the kids do really ingenious things like moving into the place, disturbing Jimmy's corpse and ignoring the neighborhood psychic. Ickiness ensues.
Here are the ground rules for horror flicks, all of which Bones flagrantly disobeys:
1. Figure out ahead of time whether the audience should root for the ghost/demon/monster or for the humans. Criminy, please give us someone to side with, and make them just a tad sympathetic. In Bones, the humans are annoying and vapid, while the ghost is way more evil and bloodthirsty than the flashbacks of his life would explain. We wound up wishing that everyone except Grier would die horribly.
2. Spread out the kills throughout the movie. Bones starts with two college boys being dragged screaming into the house of evil. Awesome! Then nobody dies for another hour. Yawn.
3. There is such a thing as "too many maggots."
4. If we're supposed to be horrified by talking severed heads, don't make them so darn funny.
5. Embrace the concept of logic. Even if it's just the internal logic of the movie's universe, plot it out and stick to it. When the daughter of the local psychic and the deceased Jimmy suddenly spews maggots (see no. 3) at the end of the movie, it comes out of nowhere, and Jimmy's dubbed "dog-eat-dog" credo---GET IT?!---just adds to the confusion. (If you're upset that we gave away the ending, get help now.)
Look, we can understand the fun in being terrified by something that's ultimately harmless, particularly given the genuine horrors in the real world these days. But the only frightening things about Bones are the fact that people got paid to write, direct and produce it; that someone conned Pam Grier into appearing in it; and that Snoop Dogg has another movie coming out soon.
The horror... the horror....