Directors: Rusty Cundieff, Darin Scott
One of the more unlikely franchises to exist is Tales from the Hood. Not that it’s a series that doesn’t deserve one, but the fact that it took 20+ years to get the first sequel to the cult horror anthology film certainly seemed like it came a bit too late. Yet, Tales from the Hood 2 was released straight to home video a couple of years ago and it must have sold well enough to warrant another entry. This brings us to the focus of this review, Tales from the Hood 3, the latest omnibus of horror stories that sees the return of writers and directors Rusty Condieff and Darin Scott. Like the previous sequel, this one is a relatively hit or miss affair and the various stories included range from intriguing to downright strange. Just like the last one too, there is an ambitiousness to the proceedings that often is at war with the budgetary constraints. At times this third entry is quite intriguing, but the ultimate experience is lackluster and muddy.
Blood Brothers ends up covering a ton of horror anthology films and Tales from the Hood 3 comes with some of the same criticisms. Whenever a film has multiple short stories, the quality between stories will have its ups and downs. Depending on your preference of style, subject matter, and humor, some stories will fly and others will crash. To its benefit, the tone of this film is far more consistent than its peers, simply due to Condieff and Scott, but even then, the overall experience can be varying from viewer to viewer.
With a wraparound story that features a young girl telling moral stories to the man that has her on the run from some unknowable horror, a man played by the always welcome presence of Tony Todd, Tales from the Hood 3 immediately lacks the overall sense of fun and humor that its predecessors carried in spades. Even the color scheme of the entire film is practically filtered into black and white. Even when the film attempts to deliver on more humorous ideas – the Twilight Zone inspired racist that lives in his bunker and speaks through his radio – a segment that seems over the top until you know someone like that, it still lacks the quirkiness that made the first two films an entertaining watch. The more serious tone does give some gravitas to a few stories, including one portion where a young aspiring singer attempts to kill an old woman for her money to buy her way into the music industry, but the overall experience lacks pizzazz.
Featuring stories about evil landlords that force tenants out of their homes and thieves that carry sins for stealing sneakers, Cundieff and Scott once again aim to tell stories that distinctly carry social commentary weight based on the African American experience in America. Quite frankly, this is always the best part of this series. While Tales from the Hood 3 doesn’t quite have some of the punch that stories from the last two films have had, it does carry some great commentary within its stories. The budget, in general, seems to hinder some of the loftier goals – particularly in the last story about the sneaker thief, yet it still powers through in moments that remind the audience of why this franchise exists and NEEDS to exist.
The execution of the horror and humor is often as hit or miss as the tone too. The acting performances range from impressively subtle to utterly forgettable to ham-fisted, the visual quirks occasionally feel forced, and the special effects are spotty. Even within one scene, the finale of the first story which features fiery ghost figures, wavers in quality from moment to moment. It’s obvious that Cundieff and Scott are aiming high and want to kick it to the next level, but struggle to find that balance and foundation to do so.
All in all, Tales from the Hood 3 will appeal to fans of the series for its fascinating social commentaries and ambitious swings for its various stories. It’s easily the weakest of the trilogy, suffering from obvious budgeting restraints, wildly hit or miss moments of execution, and a tonality that lacks the fantastic quirkiness and goofiness that made the medicine easier to swallow in both of the previous films. Quite frankly, Tales from the Hood 3 feels as it might be a misstep for the franchise, but it’s one that can easily be addressed if they decide to make a fourth one. Still, this film is only recommended for diehard fans of the series. For the rest, go in with proper expectations and you might find some enjoyment out of it.