4. Richard Brake — 31
Rob Zombie is an irritatingly inconsistent filmmaker. While all of his movies have some virtues, the majority of them are frustratingly uneven. To call his 2016 effort, 31 uneven would be an understatement. 31 is without question Zombie’s worst and least-inspired movie. It is basically a depraved version of the 1987 Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle, The Running Man. Its only saving grace and the only thing that prevents it from being completely worthless is the chilling performance of Richard Brake as the main antagonist, Doom-Head.
Brake oozes menace and sleaze which are the hallmarks of any good Rob Zombie villain. To me, Doom-Head is sort of a cross between Blue Velvet’s Frank Booth and Pulp Fiction’s Jules Winnfield. He’s completely unhinged, sociopathic, vulgar, and dangerous in a way that evokes Frank Booth. At the same time, his loquacious meanderings harken back to the “cold-blooded sh*t” Jules Winnfield would like to spout off before executing some unlucky SOB.
The masterful opening scene of 31 is framed to make it appear as though Doom-Head is breaking the fourth wall. It gives the audience a bird’s-eye view of Doom-Head’s diabolical psychological foreplay leading up to the vicious axe murder of a pastor (Daniel Roebuck). It’s a shame that the rest of the film, which plays out like a subpar slasher flick, can’t live up to the promise of this great opening scene. The only moments in this film worth a damn are those involving Richard Brake’s Doom-Head. Had Zombie made the film from the villain’s point-of-view as he did with The Devil’s Rejects, it may have been another masterpiece. Instead, it is the nadir of Mr. Zombie’s roller-coaster of a filmmaking career.