31, Rob Zombie’s latest film made possible by crowdfunding, is the type of grimy exploitation flick that the director has thrived on creating.
It’s Halloween, 1976. Five carnival workers and a couple of groupies are on the road scraping by, only to be attacked and kidnapped after running into an unusual obstruction in the road. Upon waking they find themselves chained up in an unknown building, and forced to partake in a game known as 31. The object of the game? To survive 12 hours against a myriad of wacky killers whom they must fight for their lives against. This is the full premise and story of the film, nothing more, nothing less. What else would you expecting from a Grindhouse flick?
To his credit Zombie has built a really weird compound of death with a bunch of bizarre antagonists as sadistic as the violence they exhibit. From a rambling nazi to a brotherly duo of chainsaw wielding clowns there is a small assortment of mad murderers. The most dangerous of them though belongs to Richard Brakes soliloquy spouting ‘Doom-Head’. It’s easily the most sinister of displays that outclasses a cast of underwhelming performances. The aristocratic runners of the game on the other hand are just unusual and out of place, with no development on the who, what or why.
Though 31 is quintessential Grindhouse cinema in every sense of the word, it is hardly original. Which considering Zombies previous films is a real shame. The setting and the characters within may be different, but the game they’re playing is a vague rendition from The Running Man, or less subtly the game the protagonists of The Purge: Anarchy are forced into as they are hunted down by wealthy folk. Offsetting this though are the crazy encounters the group are forced into during the game which are directed really well by Zombie. A chainsaw duel in particular is particularly tense and ends grisly. Grisly is of course a trademark of Zombies films, his unflinching use of violence borders on excessive but he always tries to do it with aplomb.
Full to the brim with killer clowns, and an intense villainous performance from Richard Brakes, 31 is a film tailor made for hardcore horror fans or followers of Zombies work. The film has its flaws (the nattering nazi was plain annoying), but what Grindhouse flick doesn’t?