Writer/ Director: Rob Zombie
Cast: Malcolm McDowell, Richard Brake, Jeff Daniel Phillips, Elizabeth Daily, Sheri Moon Zombie, Meg Foster
On Halloween 1976, a group of friends road trip. As they drive down the road at night, their path is blocked by a row of scarecrows. A group of them get out of their van to move them out of the way. But, they are ambushed, and some of them are killed. Those that are left to live are kidnapped and wake up tied and hung. A trio of eccentric old, rich folk (led by Malcolm McDowell) tell them that they have the night to survive a game where a group of psychotic clowns will try to kill them. Each of them has a set of odds as to their survival, which changes as they do better or worse.
Let me begin with the bad and get that out of the way:
One of my major problems with this movie is how it really feels like a rehash of the first two Zombie movies, House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil's Rejects, but is never as good as those two. Scenarios and characters are heavily borrowed from them. It made me think that Zombie cannot write original characters and is revisiting his own well too many times. For example, the lovely Sheri Moon Zombie is good in her role. She's a likeable enough lead, but, essentially it feels like what would happen if Baby, from 1000 Corpses and TDR was from an alternate reality where she is a good girl as opposed to bad.
The male protagonists aren't very interesting, especially Jeff Daniel Phillips. This isn't too say their acting is bad, no, just their characters are kinda just there. Also, I saw the ending coming a mile away, but kept hoping it wouldn't go that route. When it did, I wasn't as much pissed off as I was hoping that something more could have happened. Perhaps, the fact that I knew it was coming lessened the disappointment to some degree, anyways.
I said the male protagonists weren't that interesting, but the women are a little different. Like I mentioned before Sheri revisits elements of Baby, but she still is quite good in her role. I liked seeing her kick ass. I also liked looking at her body, which looks slamming in this movie (then, when doesn't it?). Genre favorite Meg Foster has her best role in years. She is a serious badass, here!
The villains are also pretty cool. E.G. Daily is pretty fuckin sexy as Sex-Head. The real scene stealer, though, is Richard Bake as Doom-Head. He is seriously fucking creepy and menacing. The opening monologue is chilling as he looks at the camera, while he talks about killing "you". I would love to see more of this character! Pancho Molar is fucking hilarious as the Nazi, Latino, psycho, clown-midget (yes you read that right!)! Dude, had me laughing my fucking ass off!
While, the editing style keeps the gore feeling kind of short handed, the movie has a feeling of violence throughout. It also moves really fast, so it is certainly never boring. There is, at least, a good deal of fun to be had. Adding to this fun is seeing Malcolm McDowell as the head baddie, but I did kind of want more of him. An absolutely fantastic cameo by childhood crush Ginger Lynn Allen is also wonderfully appreciated. It does harken back to her cameo in TDR, but she is naked and just so much fun here, that I won't fucking complain.
31 is not a bad movie, by any means. Unfortunately, it is marred by being an inferior revisiting of Zombie's first two movies. I kind of liked it, but wish I could've enjoyed it more. Still, unlike some recent movies that I have sat through this year (Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad), I didn't dislike it more the more I thought of it. Honestly, I just came out having killed some time and being at least entertained without that many feelings of pissed-offness. As even its' failings are not horribly infuriating. Overall, it's a decent, little movie, that could have been much more has Zombie strayed away from his own tropes. All this being said, I say check it out when it comes if you are a fan of his or of this type of horror flick.
2.5 out of 5