From the twisted mind that brought the world House of a 1000 Corpses, The Devil’s Rejects, Lords of Salem, and even The Haunted World of El Superbeasto, comes Rob Zombie’s newest delightfully disturbed masterpiece, 31.
Set on Halloween day in 1979, the movie follows a small band of carnival workers played by Jeff Daniel Phillips, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, Meg Foster, Kevin Jackson, and Zombie’s wife, Sherri Moon Zombie, as they travel to their next job site. Along the way, the group is ambushed when they stop to clear a strange roadblock out of their way and taken hostage.
When they wake up, they find themselves in what appears to be an old opera theater, being addressed by a man and two women dressed in very noble looking clothes, powdered wigs, and old fashioned makeup.
They’re told that they’re going to play a game called “31,” where they have to survive twelve hours and then they’re free to go. The competition that the five face will be a group of deranged individuals known as the “Heads,” starting with Sick-Head, a dwarf dressed up like Adolf Hitler, with a giant swastika painted on his chest, who speaks primarily in Spanish. From the moment the “game” begins, 31 plays out like a sick version of The Hunger Games meets Friday the 13th.
The cinematography for 31 is a strong point in the movie’s favor. Zombie’s mixing of different filming techniques allowed him to alternate between a vintage home movie style for the opening scene and a smooth, but gritty, style for the bulk of the movie.
Even during the most hectic fight scenes and struggles, 31 is largely devoid of the nauseating “shaky cam” or jump cuts that seem to plague movies with action scenes these days.
None of the actors that Zombie drafted for this picture give a weak performance, but the strongest one of the film is arguably Richard Brake as chief antagonist, Doom-Head. From his introduction to the viewer in the opening seconds of the movie, all the way to his reappearance in the last third, Brake never disappoints.
His lines are delivered with an almost manic glee, swinging between homicidally violent, waxing philosophical, and a cool and disconcerting calm, that never fails to drive home just how unsettled Doom-Head truly is.
31 is a must see for any fan of Zombie’s work, horror fans, or anyone looking for a dark and twisted movie experience that will keep them on the edge of their seat the whole time.