A group of carnival workers are kidnapped by a group of psychotic clowns on Halloween night. These group of people are forced to play a game of 31. This game makes the so-called players try and survive for 12 hours or they will die.
Director: Rob Zombie
Cast: Sherri Moon Zombie, Jeff Daniel Phillips, Meg Foster, Richard Brake, Malcolm McDowell
MPAA Rating: R for strong bloody horror violence, pervasive language, sexual content and drug use
Fun Fact: Rob Zombie had this film backed from crowd funding twice.
31 is the latest film from Rob Zombie, who if you are into horror films has had a lot of hit and misses. We have seen his hits (The Devils Rejects, House Of 1000 Corpses) and the misses (Lords of Salem). So where does 31 fall in the list?
Let’s just say purgatory.
31 is a mixed bag of both good and bad. It has its strong moments and while those moments are memorable, it gets brought down by all the Rob Zombie clichés that are in his films. We get some of the worst written dialogue that I’ve seen in a while and characterizations that make you not care about 99% of the characters get lines that mostly consist of F-bombs and B-words in every other sentence. The script is so lazy with the dialogue that makes you wonder why this film never got proper studio backing in the first place. I’m fine with a few F-bombs and such but, when it’s literally every other word then it gets old after the first five minutes. Another thing about the script that it has the Zombie clichés that we have seen multiple times before. A group of people are in the middle of no where and get hunted down by a bunch of people. We have seen that before with House Of 1000 Corpses and The Devils Rejects. It really isn’t that fresh and original.
The characters we get are your typical sock horror characters. You know nothing about them and you won’t really care who survives or dies. The carnival workers don’t really have anything going for them other than driving in a van in the middle of nowhere and smoking pot. We have seen all that many times in films like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre but, what makes this worse is the protagonists don’t have anything about them for you to root for them. Most of the villains suffer from the same thing and that’s upsetting. It’s like Zombie thought let’s make scary looking clowns because people fear them. The Nazi guy was by far the worst of all the characters. Not because he’s a Nazi but, because he’s so obnoxious that I said thank you when he was done in the film. Half of the time he speaks Spanish and not German so that’s a big huh moment. While those are the weak characters there is one bright star in all of this……
Richard Brake owns the role of Doom-Head. He’s nasty cruel and down right scary. Every scene that Brake is in he steals the show and he delivers whatever horrible dialogue he has believable. Brake’s opening monologue will get you hooked into the film and when he comes back in the last act of the film the tension rises. Doom-Head is the best part of the film and my recommendation if you want to see this film is to see his parts.
There are some technical things that are hard to watch. The camera work is awful when it comes to the fight scenes. It sets up with a square off then after some time someone is dead, and you don’t really see what happens. This is probably because they had to submit to the MPAA a few times to go from an NC-17 to an R rating. I hope Zombie goes for a director’s cut and the technical quality might be a little better. The score was nice as it had a Carpenter spooky type feel to it. The score was written by Zombie and his band mates and it worked.
Overall 31 is just a mixed bag. You get characters that you will not really care about and horrible dialogue that will make you cringe. I would suggest it only to see the parts with Richard Brake in them because he really steals the show.
Verdict: Middle Ground