Author: Laura Cosheril
I’m not going to lie, I’m a bit of a Rob Zombie fan girl, I’m a fan of his music and his movies. I will admit, some of his movies have been questionable (Lords of Salem) but I have enjoyed them all the same. His style of directing and writing appeal to the inner metalhead hillbilly in me and I enjoy it.
With that in mind, it was natural that when I heard that he was releasing a new movie promising lots of blood, violence and horror, I was in my element. I anxiously waited for release but have only been able to watch it recently, but the anticipation was still high.
With this in mind, Rob Zombie’s directing usually has some downfalls, those downfalls being that he uses the same actors for the majority of his leading roles, the plot is predictable and he uses the same shock-value throughout his movies; so I can definitely see why his movies are not everyone’s cup of tea.
Anyway, back on track. 31 revolves around a group of carnies who get kidnapped on Halloween and trapped in a remote warehouse type arena where they’re forced to play a violent game called (you guessed it) 31, the only way I can describe this game is a cross between Hostel and The Maze Runner. The aim of the game is to survive the onslaught of several clowns who’s only job is to kill the players.
31 begins like any other Zombie movie with a bunch of edgy, overly sexual, unkempt characters wandering about before shit starts going down and they wake up in the grimy warehouse. I’m not going to lie, this is where the 31 goes downhill fast, the only aspect so far that made me somewhat enjoy this movie was the dark humour used in the opening scenes… Nothing to do with the horror and gore we are promised.
Right from the scene of the crew waking up in the warehouse, the plot, acting and overall execution of the movie is very hollow and one dimensional. There is no suspense, there is no emotion, there’s nothing that’s keeping me even looking at the screen at this point apart from the odd “bump”. I didn’t think it was possible for Sheri Moon Zombie’s acting to get worse, but I was wrong. Her awkward, overly-sexualised “bad-girl” acting is almost cringe-worthy as her facial expressions do not match the venom she’s trying to spit out with every curse word the script calls for; it was hard to watch.
One thing about Rob Zombie I’ve admired the most is his ability to invent some amazing villains (The Devil’s Rejects and even Lords of Salem). In 31, the villains are weak and indistinctive, we have a little neo-nazi, some guys with chainsaws and an angry German … There is nothing special here. The plot is also extremely predictable and not in the likeable way that I found with his previous releases. It’s devoid of emotion, drive and energy; not only that but it lacks a even a slither of foundation for a good horror movie – there’s no suspense or Zombie’s famous gut-wrenching gore!
Now so far I have no said a positive word about this movie, it’s because I can’t; but the one thing I can truly say I love is Richard Brake’s acting. He is the saviour of this movie, the shining light, the shooting star (literally). His acting is some that could rival Bill Mosely (Otis Driftwood in House of 1000 Corpses & Devil’s Rejects). He’s disgusting, he’s funny and he’s fucking scary. With each word that comes out of his mouth you love him even more, a far cry from his linear co-stars. I literally cannot commend his acting enough, it’s the only saving grace of 31.
When I put on 31 I had high expectations, clearly those expectations might have been too high. Rob Zombie is a leader in the Grindhouse Horror genre and has released commendable and memorable works, 31 is not one of them. It’s incredibly frustrating to watch, not only for all the points I have listed above, but for the fact he is more than capable of releasing anything better than this. Unfortunately it’s a 1.5 from me, purely for Richard Brake’s acting.