In 1979 the benevolent Jimmy Bones (Snoop Dogg) was the protector of his thriving neighborhood until a local drug peddler kills him after he refused to take part in a deal that would have brought crack cocaine into the community. Worried about being incriminated big bad Eddie Mac forces everyone in the room to take a stab at the legendary protector with a switchblade including a dirty cop Bones's right hand man his best friend Jeremiah and his girlfriend Pearl (Pam Grier). If everyone is guilty of the crime he rationalizes no one will squeal. Not a very smart move and--as one of the characters put it--four can keep a secret if three are dead. Twenty-two years later Jeremiah's two sons Patrick (Khalil Kain) and Bill (Merwin Mondesir) buy the brownstone where Bones was killed in hopes of converting it into a nightclub. What they end up doing however is unleashing the ghost of a vengeful Bones embodied in a wet black dog with red eyes. Bones becomes more human every time the rabid pooch eats fresh meat.
Bones is Snoop Dogg's starring film debut. While the role of Jimmy Bones is pivotal his character does not get that much screen time. What we do see through flashbacks and towards the end of the film is a laid-back and mellow Snoop. As a fly cat in the '70s with strangely poetic lines the role seems to have been tailor-made for him. In the role of Bones's psychic girlfriend Pearl Grier (Jackie Brown) is able to play a character with a range of 22 years with ease. Unfortunately there seems to be little chemistry between the two. Perhaps it's the fact that with Bones's pimp-like stature you wonder what someone like Pearl would see in him. But the most impressive and down-to-earth performance in the movie probably comes from Kain (Juice) as Patrick who remains very convincing in such a strange and surreal story line.
Director Ernest Dickerson (Tales from the Crypt Presents Demon Knight) wanted to make Bones in the style of classic horror movies with emphasis on practical and mechanical effects. While he mastered the campiness of the '80s horror genre the movie lacks the dread that predecessors like Nightmare on Elm Street had. The sins of the past revisiting the children theme is frightening enough but the movie resorts to cheap bloodletting for thrills instead. There is lots of gore and creepy shadows but the characters--Snoop's in particular--are confusing. Even though he was this legendary protector of the neighborhood we never really sympathize with him especially when he goes after his own daughter with a switchblade. The only character you end up caring about is Patrick whom you hope will escape the grips of this dark avenger. But Bones could definitely become an interesting franchise character if the story and characters were more refined.