After taking a three-year break from filmmaking, shock-rocker Rob Zombie returns to horror with the twisted tale, ’31’. But is the film worth it, or is Zombie playing his own game of 31 with our time and money?
Charly, a beautiful traveling carny, is seemingly on top of the sideshow world. Her carnival clan are more than co-workers and friends, they’re her dysfunctional family. But when a band of murdering misfits captures the carny crew, forcing them to play the life and death game 31, their bond will be truly tested. The game is simple: surviving the night means keeping your life. With every passing minute, do they get closer to death or life? And if they stop relaying on each other, the night won’t be a game but their collective funeral. Welcome to 31.
Rob Zombie, the filmmaker, has always been a sore subject with myself. While I’ve never stopped loving Zombie the rocker legend, his films are always hit and miss. Whereas The Devil’s Rejects is a masterpiece, his Halloween remakes are complete crap – getting me started about the Lord’s of Salem ending won’t end well.
Therefore, when discovering Zombie was setting to unleash a film about gruesome games of torturous tricks, I knew i’d be seeing it; My findings are equally gleeful and grotesque in quality.
So let’s all start a rock and roll band, grab your carnival tickets, and start playing a dangerous game of life and death ourselves as I review Rob Zombie’s crazy carnival thrill-ride, 2016’s 31.
Rob Zombie’s ’31’ One-Sheet- Courtesy of Bow and Arrow Entertainment
Rob Zombie returns to the horror scene with his blood bath feature, 31. Lucky for me, I found myself seeing the flick in theaters courtesy of Fandom Events. While the ticket was a whopping $15 bones, I was also shown a rocking music video and a documentary (which I’ll be mining for content soon for you guys). But enough of that nonsense, let’s get down and dirty about the film.
For starters, 31 is the seconded best directed Rob Zombie film to date. Bested only by the shock rocker’s masterpiece, 2005’s The Devil’s Rejects, 31 is a welcoming return for the director’s filmmaking prowess. Much like Rejects, the film finds Zombie frame freezing on the most intimately deranged moments. Also, frames often are coming from the top of the screen and pressing down the existing frame. Acting as a great segue into other scenes, these techniques are a true sign of a filmmaker harboring vision.
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Moreover, 31’s acting is like the candy gotten on Halloween; a bit of a mixed bag. Firstly, Richard Brake is brilliant as Doom-Head, a role I’m wishing I’d seen more of. Guys, when I say brilliant, I’m talking breathtakingly brilliant. From the narration, to his personification of terror, Break is killing it here. Also, Zombie favorite Malcolm McDowell is gleefully eating scenery, and watching is a delight.
On the other hand, there’s the bad. While I’ve never stop championing Sheri Moon Zombie, she’s terrible in 31. Continuously praising her small but effective role in Zombie’s ill advised Halloween remake, I’ve always liked the actress. In 31, she’s so out of her element. Honestly, it’s hard calling this acting. Thinking of anything but the actress, certainly not Charly, is an impossibility. Watching her playing next to the other talent was simply saddening.
Then there’s 31’s scripting . As the writer of every film he makes, Zombie does one vital thing right with 31 – establishing character though plot. Some screenwriters often stop plotting, having a strict character moment in its place. Often hindering a film’s momentum, this ideology begins boring an audience. With 31, Zombie keeps the film fast and energetic with plot pacing, while interjecting the human element along the way. The results are frighteningly fantastic.
Rob Zombie’s 31 is ultimately worthy of your time. While there’re many things to hate about the film, there’re many things to love. Richard Brake and Zombie’s direction is enough to warrant a viewing. Much like Tim Burton, with his highly specific style and subject matters, 31 is the by-product of a hardened rocker and horror lover. It’s Zombie at his most self. Also, Brake’s Doom-Head is worth the ticket alone. Now go try surviving the night, you never know when you’ll be playing 31.
THE GRADE: B- (Break’s performance and Zombie’s direction put it over C+)
Check out my video review of Rob Zombie’s 31, courtesy of our YouTube page:
Seeing Zombie’s 31 soon? Already seen the violent film? Let the other carnivorous carnies know what you think in the comment section below.