Rob Zombie’s newest gore-fest called “31” follows a group of people working for a carnival who are traveling across across a desolate area of the countryside. After stopping for gas out in the desert they end up being attacked by a group of demented clowns, and when they wake up they find themselves in an underground hell as unwilling participants in a game of life and death. They must survive 12 hours as one maniac after the other tries to hunt and kill them.
Now when you go into a Rob Zombie film you should know what to expect. He has been hit an miss with me but he does have a good eye for his genre. His wife once again stars in this one and brings a serviceable performance. The material was thin the moments of overacting and looking like she was actually smiling when she should be crying in some scenes were more laughable, than a hindrance to anything.
But even knowing what to expect from this film, I was still disappointed. It was not a horrible movie but it felt like a very lazy one. There was zero story development, zero character development and once the killing starts you can care less if the characters make it or not. There are segments of the story with a such a lack of detail it takes all the impact out the suspense it was trying to build. Also, the story taking place in the mid-70’s did allow for the vintage Zombie film style, but it did feel like a case of style over substance.
There were some distracting plot issues, I was curious how the game rulers could have watched the participants given the lack of technology at the time. These are small things but for a person who likes a story to their horror film, this one didn’t deliver. It was hard to feel the suspense with a story that just felt staged, like a haunted house reality ride. There was just a clear lack of effort in trying to tell any sort of solid story and it turned the whole thing into a mindless blood-bath.
Richard Brake was easily the best thing about this film. He perfectly captured the vibe of a maniacal psychopath and his performance far exceeded the material he had to work with. He was a sick and twisted character, perfect for what this movie needed and it’s unfortunate his performance may end up being over shadowed by the lack of enjoyment in this film.
There were some nice visuals at times but also some very poorly shot ones as well. There were some frantic camera movements during the chaotic moments and over editing was a clear issue throughout. This movie did create some frightening moments but none land with the impact they could have with such a weak set-up script wise.
In the end though, this film was a decent one time watch, but Rob Zombie has does much better and shown much more effort in other films, and while this does have you on edge at times with all its gore, it doesn’t pull you into the settings, or story with such a thin writing effort and I’ll give “31” a (C). This movie was just a collection of small ideas from other films and given a Rob Zombie glossing, and I was hoping for something more sinister, and not simple shock-value gore.
Time: 102 min
MPAA Rating: R (For strong bloody horror violence, pervasive language, sexual content and drug use)