Ok, where to start. First I want to clarify that I am not a Rob Zombie hater. I’m not a fanboy either. House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects are two of my favorite horror films of all time. I even enjoyed his first Halloween remake. Everything else he’s done has left me scratching my head. Many of my books, such as the Hell Texas stories have been compared to Zombie’s work which I’ve always taken as a compliment.
So 31, I’ll skip over the fact that this film was crowdfunded by a multi-millionaire, having the fans foot the bill. But I do want to point out not long after this film was first screened, Rob Zombie had said in a Q and A that the non-horror film he was working on wasn’t working out. So while on the phone with a friend he said he could make any stupid idea into a horror film and it would make money (I’m trying to find the actual quote, but I heard it when the Q and A first came out a couple weeks ago)
So that alone is kind of a slap in the face to horror fans. That said, onto the actual film:
The story is a group of carnival workers who get kidnapped by a band of evil clowns and have to survive for 12 hours playing this game of 31 with these clowns whose names all end in “head” like Psycho-head, Doom-head, etc, trying to kill them.
On the surface some of the plot sounds like my book Welcome to Happytown. That’s where any similarities end however.
Now I don’t expect Rob Zombie films to be rich on plot. Usually they are fun and gory and filled with one-liners. This wasn’t that gory. Every time there was a violent scene the camera would start shaking like crazy and you couldn’t see what was happening other than a little blood spraying.
Also the dialogue was forced and just not very good. Having just turned it off a few minutes ago, I can remember very few if any lines from the movie. Doom-head was by far the best character, but in this film the bar wasn’t set very high.
Being a lover of clowns myself, the clowns weren’t all that clowny. It was like a bunch of meth heads smeared grease paint on their faces and ran around with chainsaws yelling “FUCK YOU!” That pretty much sums up 31. Maybe since I’ve written several of my own clown stories I had my own expectations of what I think scary clowns should look and act like.
Even Sheri Moon who I usually enjoy even though she mostly plays the same character over and over in different variations seemed like she wished she were somewhere else. And I don’t mean her character in the story. I mean she seemed like she didn’t want to be making that movie.
All of this makes me wonder if Lionsgate didn’t give him a lot of help when he was making movies for them. Help in the form of writers and such helping him tweak the story as they went along and production people in setting up the shots. I’m not a filmmaking expert by far. But shaky cams really drive me nuts which is why I hate found footage movies. This wasn’t found footage yet here I was wondering what the hell was happening most of the time.
The final thing that was frustrating was that the story never tells you anything about these people. This 31 game is run by some weird group of aristocrats. Who are they, where do they come from and why are they doing this? Is it for entertainment? Is there some bigger force at work behind it? or is this just something some rich dude threw together for his own amusement? It tells us nothing about anyone. Not the clowns or the victims.
Like I said, Doom-head was by far the most fascinating character, but by the time he came along, I really didn’t care anymore. So anyway. These are my thoughts. The movie wasn’t horrible. I was able to finish it. Something I can’t say for Lord’s of Salem. But it wasn’t anything to get excited over either.