Starring: Snoop Dog, Daniella Alonso, Anson Mount, Ernie Hudson, Danny Trejo, Brande Roderick, Pooch Hall, Aries Spears, Sydney Tamiia Poitier, Lyn Shaye, Dallas Page, Noel Gugliemi and Billy Dee Williams
Director: Stacy Title
Rating: Six of Ten Stars
"Snoop Dog's Hood of Horror" is an anthology film in the vein of the classic anthology comic books like "House of Mystery" or "Tales from the Crypt" and great anthology films like "From Beyond the Grave", with an equal amounts horror, humor and irony mixed together in chilling tales of poetic justice. The tales featured in this movie are a breed apart from the aforementioned anthologies (and the dozens of others I could mention) by setting the tales in an inner city neighborhood and infusing the film with a gangster rap/hip-hop sort of feel, with all the pimps, hoes, taggers, and gangbangers that implies.
While this is a movie that's directed primarily at fans of Snoop Dogg and the musical style/culture he promotes, it's a film that lovers of lighthearted horror films can also enjoy. While the film is profane and violent, and the stories predictable, at least they're stories. Too many horror films these days lack real stories but are just excuses to string together scenes of violence--and mostly pointless violence at that. While the violence we get in "Hood of Horror" is very gory, it serves a purpose beyond simply grossing out the viewer... something which can't be said for the violence and gore in any of the "Saw" films or even the more recent "The Ruins". Hiphop/gangster rap fan or not, if you like horror films with style and content beyond splatter, I think you'll find something to like here.
The film starts out with an animated sequence that explains how Snoop Dogg came to wear the mantle of the Hound of Hell, an inner-city demon who collects the souls of those who die after rejecting opportunities to change their evil ways, and sends them to Hell. These animated sequences form the "wrap-around" story for the film, phasing in and out with live action sequences of Snoop Dog interacting with the characters of the main stories, usually as the story begins or ends. Snoop Dog's Hound of Hell is both an observer and a participant in the tales, serving sometimes as a catalyst for the events, sometimes as a facilitator, but always ultimately dishing out final punishment
The first tale of doomed homies, "Crossed Out", focuses on Posie (Alonso), a troubled young grafitti artist and tagger who is given an opportunity to bring beauty and joy to the neighborhood through opportunities offered her by a local pastor (Williams) and a mysterious tattoo artist (Trejo). Instead of creating art, however, she chooses to use mystical powers she finds herself with to kill gangbangers who have tormented her. This is the goriest of the three tales, but the deaths are all hilarious. It's also the story with the most profound message.
Next up, we have "The Scumlord", the tale of a king-sized asshole of a Texan (Mount) who comes to the Hood of Horror with his even more obnoxious Paris Hilton-clone girlfriend (Roderick). He is his father's sole heir, but before he can collect, the will insists he must spend a year living with his father's old Army buddies, whom the father had provided with a home in retirement. Instead of trying to learn from the old warriors and co-exist with them, he engages in a campaign of humiliation and terror to drive them out of the home. This is the weakest of the three, as the villainous characters are so extreme they cross from being satirical into just stupid.
Finally, we have "Rhapsody Askew" where Sod (Hall), a wanna-be rapper, finds his prayers answered when a chance encounter with a talented musician (Spears) leads to a partnership that catapults both to stardom. But when Sod betrays not only his artistic partner but a promise he made to God, he discovers the price of not "keeping it real." With echoes of real-world music industry politics, gangster rap violence and conspiracy theories, and an ambiguous character who might be an angel who's come to Earth to revoke Sod's contract with God (Shaye) and a performance by Spears that's both funny and creepy, it's a surprisingly thought-provoking piece for the film to go out on.
"Snoop Dogg's Hood of Horror" is a neat little anthology flick that has a little bit of something for everyone, except maybe those who break out in hives at the mention of rap music, or those who think Torture Porn is the height of horror film evolution. It's not groundbreaking, but it is fun.