Written and directed by Rob Zombie, "31" is his latest grindhouse style horror film, the kind we are so used to seeing from him. It follows a group of carnival workers played by Jeff Daniel Phillips, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, Meg Foster, Kevin Jackson, and of course, his wife Sheri Moon Zombie, because what would a Rob Zombie movie be without Sheri Moon? This clan are abducted by a group of wealthy people in powdered wigs and Victorian-era costumes that go by names like Father Murder, Sister Serpent, and Sister Dragon, played by Malcolm McDowell, Jane Carr, and Judy Geeson. This group forces them to play a game of survival called "31," where they are hunted by psychopaths who have equally weird names like Sick-Head, Schizo-Head, Psycho-Head, Death-Head, Sex-Head, and Doom-Head, and have to try to stay alive in the face of chainsaws, shotguns, and other various types of weapons.
This film is a clear homage to old splatter-house horrors and is even set in the seventies to drive home that grindhouse feel. The plot has a style we have described as "The Running Man" meets "The Purge" meets "The Devil's Rejects," and we're sure others will have the same observations as well. The script isn't all that great. The narrative is a bit nonsensical and the dialogue is downright awful at times, but we aren't really looking at Rob Zombie to make impactful, dramatic dialogue if we're being honest. The visual style, the violence, the gore, the graphic nature of the kills, and the gratuitous nudity may be enough to keep many horror fans happy, and really, this kind of stuff is his wheelhouse as a huge horror fan. We do wish there was more tension and we sort of wish we cared a little more about whether or not the characters survive because we absolutely don't. We also wanted the methods used for killing off characters would have been more creative. There is a lot of clichés going on in "31" and we find one aspect in particular very predictable that we just can't forgive.
In the end, there is some entertainment value in "31" if you accept this splatter-fest for what it is: a low budget, crowd-funded horror feature with all of Rob Zombie's signature directorial styles and the same people he's been employing for nearly two decades.
My Rating: 5.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 5.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 5.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 58%
Do we recommend this movie: Meh.