Bones was another one of those movies that came out while I was working at Blockbuster Video, which meant that I saw so many ads for it that by the time it was out I had no interest in seeing it. Big mistake.
How to watch it:
Bones takes its time establishing who its major players are, but – ambitiously for a movie built around the idea of it starring Snoop Dogg on a supernatural mission of vengeance – the titular Jimmy Bones is not among them. Even when he returns to our world, Bones is less a person and more the guilt and despair over his death that hangs over his former neighborhood. The movie has two distinct acts (one before and one after Bones has fully arrives from the land of the dead), and as it goes on we notice Bones to be a bit more ruthless than the film leads us to expect from a ghost just out to take revenge on those specific few that betrayed him in life. The movie get interesting here, and implies that the ghostly Bones is not just the spirit of one man but also a collection of all of the bad stuff that’s gone down in time since his death.
Pearl (Pam Grier) and her daughter Cynthia (Bianca Lawson) live across the street from Bones’ old home, but Cynthia’s been kept in the dark about what actually happened there. Director Ernest R. Dickerson works the film’s geography and even costumes for some characters to portray a population that’s only moved on on the surface.
The movie follows a small group of friends who purchase Bones’ former estate with the plan to renovate it and potentially revitalize its surrounding neighborhood. Instead they’re subjected to strange happenings and bizarre consisting of a merged mass of writhing people. The movie’s supernatural workings are vague in a way that works on the kind of nightmare logic we’d associate with early 80s Italian horror like Inferno or City of the Living Dead.
Maggots are one thing, suspicious hellhounds are another, but this entire scene and its culminating in a suspicious hellhound vomiting five gallons of maggots onto its victim would be right at home in a Fulci movie.
This also makes for some good Gothic horror, since we spend some time excited for Bones’ spirit to fully awaken and destroy the film’s bad guys, but a lot of innocent people, specifically a lot of innocent children of the people involved in Bones’ death, get caught in the crossfire as the adults in the movie put off dealing with what happened for as long as possible. The cast is really good here, and does the most with a tight script to give us a wide variety of takes on the fate of Bones’ old neighborhood.