Taking a much shorter hiatus between sequels this time, Tales from the Hood 3 continues the tradition of weaving an anthology of horror tales that play out like morality fables inspired by real world social issues, particularly those prominent in the black community.
The original sadly didn’t do well back in 1995, but has since become a cult classic (you can check out our piece for its 25th anniversary earlier this year). Its sequel Tales from the Hood 2 received relatively poor reviews, as many fans and critics felt that it was too preachy and forgot to be a horror film.
So will Tales from the Hood 3 fall into the same pitfall, or will it recapture the glory of the first film? The answer is a little bit of both, but fortunately more of the latter. Let’s tell some scary stories about how that is:
Spoilers Ahead – You’ve Been Warned
We begin with a wraparound story of a man (Tony Todd) and a little girl in an abandoned building hiding from something “bad”. To pass the time, the little girl tells stories, and thus drives the anthology narrative.
Each time we cut back here between stories, it becomes quite clear that Tony Todd’s character is far from benevolent, but he ultimately gets his comeuppance in a brutal, over the top, Tales from the Hood manner!
The first story deals with the very real issue of gentrification as a large real estate developer is trying to buy up an apartment building in a low income neighborhood to turn it into luxury condos, which will of course skyrocket local rent and drive people out. One family with a sick child is hell-bent on staying, no matter how much the landlord offers.
Desperate for the deal to go through, the landlord resorts to illegal means that have unintended and devastating consequences. Not long after, he’s haunted by what appears to be vengeful spirits, although we’re not entirely sure if that’s the case or if it’s his own guilty conscience.
The whole story has really cool and creepy “Tell Tale Heart” vibe to it. It gets across its point about gentrification, but also allows the horror to thrive, and even uses it to further that message. It shows the very real human cost of “progress”.
Less horror and more Twilight Zone in nature, this tale focuses on a virulently racist man who’s holed up in a bunker, sending out messages over the radio about white supremacy and taking the country back from all the minorities that he deems inferior.
The racist man seems almost over the top in nature, but sadly his words are not all that different than the angry rants one might find on social media. Where this story really gets interesting though is in its twist. The man is actually trapped inside a force field of some sort of futuristic “human zoo”, where he is part of the Racist Exhibit, and an endangered species at that.
Ultimately the thesis of this tale is one of optimism that racism is dying out. Granted, this whole movie was made before the events of George Floyd’s murder and the subsequent protests. However, it still represents a sort of optimistic future where such toxic philosophies do die out.
It’s also a very fitting twist on the very real and shameful human zoos that exist throughout the 19th and early 20th Centuries. These exhibits sprung up in Europe, featuring captive indigenous people being treated like animals and gawked at by visitors. Hopefully this film can shed a light and inspire people to learn more about these today.
For those who have seen 2005’s The Skeleton Key, this story will seem somewhat familiar. An elderly opera singer looks back with regret and sorrow as her career was cut short decades earlier, because at the time it wasn’t socially acceptable for a black woman to sing opera.
She befriends a young singer, who works with her as a sort of personal care assistant, and we discover that her plot all along has been to use dark magic to transfer her soul into this younger body, giving her one more chance at fame in a more accepting time period.
It’s a concept that’s both compelling and a little tragic, given the history. Obviously her actions make her a bona fide horror villain, but it’s easy to relate to and understand her motivations. The modern world is certainly filled with issues, but things were worse for a lot of people only a few decades ago.
In the film’s final story, we a get a good fashioned morality fable, as a mugger who attacks anyone indiscriminately receives his karma when he figuratively (and literally) walks in one of his victim’s shoes.
As the man he killed during a mugging begins to decompose (and go through an autopsy), the mugger feels everything and we see in on display on his body in grotesquely brutal horror movie style.
Tales from the Hood 4?
As previously mentioned, a lot has happened in 2020, and it’s very likely that if this movie was being written now, it would play out very differently with emphasis in other areas. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t get another movie exploring those ideas.
Granted the second movie was a huge disappointment compared to the first, but this third entry really got it right. It balances its social commentary with clever writing and remains legitimately creepy and scary at times, as it doesn’t forget to go full horror!
Tales from the Hood 3 is currently streaming on VOD and available on DVD!