Horror Review: 31 (2016)


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Five carnival workers are kidnapped and held hostage in an abandoned, Hell-like compound where they are forced to participate in a violent game, the goal of which is to survive twelve hours against a gang of sadistic clowns.

Director: Rob Zombie
Writer: Rob Zombie
Stars: Malcolm McDowell, Richard Brake, Jeff Daniel Phillips, Meg Foster, Sheri Moon Zombie

The much maligned Rob Zombie is back once again into the horror fray with his latest effort, 31 starring some of Zombie’s typical actors including his wife, Sheri Moon Zombie, and Malcolm McDowell. After the director said that he wanted to branch out to other genre with a return to horror not happening for a long time, he decided to step back into his comfort zone and write and direct 31.

Let’s face it, Zombie catches a lot of slack for his work in the genre. He is easy to hate, but I have trouble seeing why there is so much hate for the man. From his debut with House of 1000 Corpses to its sequel, The Devil’s Rejects, the man has proven that he knows how to do horror. Once his Halloween remake began being discussed, the horror community quickly turned on him because you cannot touch such a sacred piece of horror history. From someone who absolutely adores the original film, the remake never hurt my feelings. It was its own movie. Sure, much of the charm of the original was lost in the remake, but it was a beast of a film with its sequel, 2009’s Halloween II surpassing the quality of the first one. 2012’s The Lords of Salem was a decent film, but seemed to lack the gusto of his other films. I will reserve judgement on 2009’s The Haunted World of El Superbeasto. As horrible as the plot sounds, the film itself was even worse.

With 2016, Zombie comes back with the much publicized 31. With a low reported budget and two crowdfunding campaigns under its belt, the film should make its budget back, but that is a far cry from the kinds of money that Zombie’s films used to make.

31 rehashes a lot of what was done with House of 1000 Corpses from having some of the same actors to a lot of the same plot. The biggest difference is Sheri Moon Zombie being the final girl instead of one of the killers. Sadly, Malcolm McDowell’s presence was wasted with a small role as the overseer of the “game.” The standout of the film was easily Richard Brake though. His evil character nails it throughout the entire film although some of his lines were weak at best.

31 feels like Zombie’s other films. For better or worse, Zombie knows how to portray a specific type of character and does it well. Unfortunately, his films all seem to portray the same types of characters, so it does start to get old. The positive of all Zombie films though is that the soundtrack always kicks ass.

For the most part, I enjoyed the film as it did breeze by at points, but at times, it became painfully slow with horrible dialogue that was giving me douche chills. His films are hit or miss with the dialogue with the majority of it being good, but there were some painful moments in 31.

At the end of the day, 31 was a good film, but one that I had much higher expectations for. One indication that the film was going to be weaker was the lame names being given to the villains as sketches were being released of them periodically. Do yourself a favor and check this one out though. Zombie fans will still dig it, but non-Zombie fans will use it as added fuel for their fire.

31 Trailer