There was really no way for me to avoid at least a small degree
of skepticism coming into BONES. How could anyone really take the project
% seriously? The concept of a horror movie driven by a rapper with
little acting experience outside of music videos was enough to raise
questioning eyebrows, but couple that with the discouraging ad campaign
issued by New Line Cinema to support their latest horror offering and it
was really hard to have any faith in the idea at all.
Thankfully, first impressions don’t always prove to be entirely
representative, and you can’t always judge a book by its cover — or a
horror movie by its rapper. As I watched BONES unfold I was repeatedly and
surprisingly impressed with how well director Ernest Dickerson and all
parties involved handled the film and managed to make it a really fun movie
to watch — if not an entirely original one. Dickerson (who directed the
horribly underrated DEMON KNIGHT) once again crafts a movie that seems to
really capture the spirit of flat-out s-styl horror without falling prey
to annoyingly ‘hip’ reflexivity. BONES is not a movie that winks at its
audience at how cleverly ‘old-school’ it is, but rather just opts to give
you the goods. And the goods are pretty darn good. This is by no means a
‘psychological thriller’; this is a horror movie, complete with plenty of
surprising and fun killings and a very, very hearty helping of gore (the
blood, right in tune with the overall vibe of the film, has the feel of
late s splatter — garish and pasty).
Throughout the first minutes of BONES I was amazed at how genuinely
interesting the story was. It’s not wholly original, but it’s compelling
enough to keep you wanting to see more. There are some pretty blatant nods
to A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET and HELLRAISER, but Dickerson and Co. pull
them off very well, and they fit perfectly into the saga of Jimmy Bones.
Which leads right into the all-important topic of Snoop Dogg The Actor vs.
Snoop Dogg The Rapper. As I stated earlier, it’s hard not to have doubts
about a rapper turned first-time actor, but Snoop Dogg actually comes
across pretty well in his debut horror feature. Part of the reason for this
is that the story keeps him as a side character for much of the film,
preventing him from growing stale or turning into a joke — which,
unfortunately, is what ultimately happens towards the latter half of the
film. Once Snoop does show up in the film BONES begins to lose a little of
its edge, but it’s not really Snoop’s fault. The final half-hour of the
film treads on some corny ground, but manages to come out without losing
TOO much credibility, and the last moments reeked of enough Fulci-ness to
keep me smiling as the credits rolled and I was subjected to an obligatory
rap tune by the star of BONES (thankfully Dickerson waited until the end of
the film proper before throwing it in).
BONES, while by no means the most original or complete horror
opus to come out of Hollywood, knows what it wants to be and pretty much
hits the mark dead-center. Though it dips into mediocrity in the closing
act, there’s enough great stuff in the film to keep you entertained through
its lesser bits.