Review of Rob Zombie's 31!
By: Jason Bechard

Hey, I Watched This! Reviewing Movies I've watched recently.

Hello again, Friends!

I'm back, and I have got a good one for ya!

I recently re–visited this flick from a couple years ago, and realized, I don't know very many people who have seen, let alone heard of, this flick!

31(2016) Written and directed by Rob Zombie (Yes, that Rob Zombie!) Starring Sheri Moon Zombie(of course), Malcolm McDowell(Screen legend and regular Zombie collaborator), Richard Brake, and Meg Foster.

Here's the IMDB synopsis, "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.

Now, I want to start by admitting, that Rob Zombie's films are very "hit and miss" for me. House of 1,000 Corpses (2003) was good, until the 3rd act, where it gets "trippy". The Devil's Rejects (2005) was great, and I am really looking forward to the upcoming sequel, 3 from Hell! Halloween (2007) was awesome! Halloween II (2009) was weird and disjointed with its "spiritual" connections of the Myers family. The Lords of Salem (2012) was a mess, really weird, and downright boring!

If you look at these flicks, and which ones worked for me, you'll notice his style shines when it's dark, grimy, and "realistic." 31 is EXACTLY that!

Zombie's visual style, with this type of story, is incredibly and disturbingly detailed. Gory detail in spades! He doesn't leave much to the imagination because he puts it all on display, with a quality that definitely feels real. It's when he gets "trippy" and (I don't know if this is the right word?) existential, that his style changes into something more "artsy", which I think is an attempt to shock the psyche, but it mostly comes across as confusing. But there isn't much of that in 31, which is fine by me! Add in, that this story is set in 1975, and the film takes on a bit of a "grindhouse" vibe, which is an added bonus.

Right off the bat, we see Richard Brake's "Doom–Head". Dead center screen. Facial close–up, and glorious, gritty black and white. Brake's delivery of this opening monlogue, is terrifyingly spellbinding. Brake really steals this entire flick! His portrayal of this unremorseful, sociopathic death artist, is truly something to behold. He epitomizes evil, with clear intentions, no sneaky underhandedness, and a blunt "it's just business" mindset! In my opinion, one of the scariest individuals in the history of horror! McDowell's "Father Murder", and his sister's, are the evil puppet masters behind the entire event, and there is clearly no remorse for the atrocities they orchestrate. They are strange elitists, that clearly find joy in the suffering of others. Meg Foster is the "matriarch" of the carnival folks, the victims of the game. She pulls herself together to try and save her family, from the nightmare they have been thrust into. Sheri Moon Zombie starts out as the "damsel in distress", but quickly evolves, and adapts to her surroundings, almost too quickly. In the end, it almost seems like it was her "natural environment", and she played the part really convincingly! Given the tone of the entire plot, which is naturally over the top to begin with, no actor in this flick goes too far. The various clowns or "Heads" as they're called, are insane, but each is played exactly to the level required to fit in to the tone of the film. I mean there's a "Midget Latino Hitler Nazi" named "Sick–Head", a pair of chainsaw wielding rednecks named Psycho–Head and Schizo–Head. There's a large "Aryan/German" behemoth wielding a sledgehammer, named Death–Head, who is paired with the "Harley Quinn"–esque hottie, Sex–Head. And last, but certainly not least, Doom–Head. The methodical "champion" of them all, who exudes the ideal that "it's just business, and business is good!"

I want more of this world. I'd like to know a bit more of the history of the game. How long has this been going on? Since this was set in 1975, how long did it continue for? Is it still going today? The ending, which features a magnificent and terrifying shot of Doom–Head's face in broad daylight, is left wide open. A cliffhanger if you will. I take back what I said earlier about Zombie not leaving anything to the imagination, because "Dammit!", I want to know what happens next!

There are not very many horror movies, that I revisit regularly. Horror is not my favourite genre, but I can appreciate it. With that being said, 31(2016) is high on my list of favorite horror movies.

I give 31 (2016) 5 stars!

Now, please allow me to quickly explain, my rating system. I am not entirely comparing these flicks to others. I judge each flick individually, on the things that I see, feel, and experience, while watching them. Sure, I may be "heavy–handed" with my ratings, but that's just how they make "ME" feel. I hope that makes sense?

Please, don't forget to head on over to the Hey, I Watched This! thread in The World of Myth Forums (before they are gone), if you have any comments, questions, or suggestions. I'd really like to hear from you! I especially invite you to the forums this time around, to tell me what you think happened after 31 ended? I have my theories, let's hear yours!

See you next month, Folks!