31 is an upcoming horror film from director Rob Zombie (The Devil’s Rejects). It stars Richard Brake, Sheri Moon Zombie, Jeff Daniel Phillips, Meg Foster, Lew Temple, Malcolm McDowell, Judy Geeson, Elizabeth Daily and Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs . It made it’s debut at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah on January 23rd and is now playing in limited theaters as well as VOD.
The story of five random people kidnapped on the five days leading up to Halloween and held hostage in a place called Murder World. While trapped inside this man-made hell, they must fight to survive playing the most violent game known to man… a game called 31. 31 has no rules. 31 has no boundaries. It is ever so simple. Do whatever you can do to killer your opponent before they kill you. Keep this up for 12 hours and freedom is yours.
I will always watch a Rob Zombie movie as soon as it comes out. No matter what. No matter the risk… Will it be House of a 1000 Corpses or Halloween 2, will it be Devil’s Rejects or Lords of Salem? I love Zombie as a director and I think he’s absolutely found his groove and latched onto it with 31 – it’s a style distinctly his own – dirty, white-trash, hillbilly rock n’ roll in love with serial murder. The Devil’s Rejects is one of my favorite movies ever made and 31 definitely has shades of that film throughout. But it’s also an entirely different and unique beast of it’s own calibre. The main problem I had with 31, and it’s also kind of the coolest thing that Zombie does with his films – is that the badguys – are way more interesting than the protagonists.
Richard Brake opens 31 up with a monologue before he murders a priest in some dank black and white hallway in what is hands down the actor’s finest work of his career. Brake is so fucking good in 31 that it’s not fair to the rest of the cast. Playing the psychopathic “Doom-Head”, Brake is one of the killers that a group of rich elite sociopaths hire to systematically murder civilians that they capture every Halloween and run bets on who will last longer — until they die horribly in a setting that makes House of 1000 Corpses look like the Teletubbies set.
Brake usually pops up playing a baddie in some of my favorite shows and flicks, (he’s the freaking Night’s King on Game of Thrones), but this performance in 31 is star-making. He’s a cross between Heath Ledger’s Joker and Patrick Bateman – and I would’ve watched an entire film simply dedicated to Doom-Head – he’s that spectacular. Zombie has created iconic villains in his films before, but I dare proclaim Doom-Head to be the very best of any of who have come before – including Captain Spaulding. Sorry, it’s true Sid Haig – Richard Brake is legendary.
Now, 31 does run into it’s fair share of problems… At first the dialog distracted me, because it was almost a little too redneckish… There’s just something about the way Zombie writes his shit that is offputting, but once you get into the mood, it kind of becomes one of the most interesting aspects of the film. The jokes are all disgusting but memorable and the villains’ lines are all so menacing and disturbing that it really cranks the tension up to 11. This movie is Rob Zombie’s Running Man if Running Man took place in Eli Roth’s Hostel. You get about 15 minutes of set-up before our group of carnies get kidnapped and thrust into an underground death-a-palooza chalk full of over-the-top killers, including a little person who dresses up like Hitler and screams in Spanish. I don’t know how he did it, but Zombie manages to toe the line between the far-too-outlandish and nightmarish horror that drives 31 until it’s fitting end.
Remember ‘Free Bird’ at the end of Devil’s Rejects? Well, Zombie is back on top of things soundtrack-wise and he utilises Aerosmith’s ‘Dream On’ so well here at the end of 31… I love his use of Southern Rock and this movie definitely incorporates it at all the right moments. The ending is a touch odd, but after thinking about it – I’m OK with how Zombie went about wrapping up 31 after we had literally been put through the ringer for over an hour. This movie is relentless and it is shockingly vile… Chainsaws, axes, clowns telling jokes about sex in one of the most cringe-worthy punchlines – ever…. The list goes on and on. If you thought The Purge franchise was a good use of people venting their demonic urges, then 31 is ‘that’ times a hundred.
Zombie is way too good at creating despicable villains and somehow making us all fall in love with them. So much so, that the poor helpless victims truly do become useless meat for our remarkable evil-doers to tenderise into oblivion. There’s a reason why Devil’s Rejects followed the badguys from House of 1000 Corpses and turned them into the protagonists…. You definitely get a sense of that here in 31, because Doom-Head — I wanted the guy to finish the job. I truly did and I’m not a sick human being, I’m just going with the flow and the flow in 31 is that if the most entertaining character has a job to do – then by golly let him do the damn thang. God I love Richard Brake.