Ah, Rob Zombie… a good friend once told me “Rob Zombie is the new M. Night Shyamalan,” and while his trend of releases over the past few years seems to prove that statement true, I feel like Shyamalan seems to have gotten part of his groove back and Zombie has yet to do that.
While House of 1,000 Corpses and Devil’s Rejects proved to be wildly successful, he lost steam with his reimaginings of Halloween and its sequel. While those two were not bad, they just lacked the punch of his previous releases, and then when the long-awaited Lords of Salem came out, I think people were just downright confused with the direction Zombie was headed, and even more so confused by why the hell he kept putting his wife in starring roles.
Now, here we are in 2016 and it’s been four years since a Rob Zombie film has been released. The trailer for 31 looked amazing, I mean, at least we can all agree on that, right? So my love for the Rob Zombie movies of old was briefly rekindled and I was looking forward to watching this new release immensely, but just as with most horror films that I highly anticipate, I was sorely disappointed.
31 is supposed to be about carnival workers who are kidnapped in the dead of night and held hostage by people who force them into playing a twelve-hour long game of deadly cat and mouse with a group of sadistic clowns. Instead, we get a group of washed-up folks in their forties and fifties with bad accents and zero back story. It’s eluded to that they’re carnival workers, but there really isn’t much else to go on or any reason to want any of these main characters to live past the opening credits. I’m big on character development, but this film had little to no character development aside from one. The main baddie, a fella named Doomhead, should have been the focal point of the film, hands down.
Rather than have a film that focuses on some unattractive carnival workers with Zombie’s not-so-good actress wife in the lead, we should have had a film about the most badass character who only got like ten minutes of screen time. That would have made 31, in my opinion, a successful film.
I understand a little mystery goes a long way, but come on, when the whole film is shrouded in mysterious nonsense and horror is simply there for the sake of horror, then I just can’t enjoy what I’m watching. There’s never an explanation behind the three rich old people who run the game, and no, Malcolm McDowell couldn’t even save this flick. The game in itself could have been fun, but with boring villains that weren’t imaginative facing off against annoying protagonists the end result was just a stew of weird ingredients that left a bad taste in my mouth.
Except for Doomhead.
I stand by my previous statement that this film should have been about him, and who knows, Zombie’s an odd enough cat that he might someday make a Doomhead spinoff, and here’s to hoping that he does!
In short, give 31 a pass until it rolls around to Starz or something and you have nothing better to watch.
Stevie Kopas, HMS
The Horror Show Menu.