Reed Alexander's Horror Review of '31'
Rob is ticking 31 of all the wrong boxes...
Jesus fucking Christ Rob... you sure do know how to pull every god damn trope out of the box that annoys the fuck out of me. This one opens with a talking head, and continues with an unnecessarily long exposition on how annoying all the fucking characters are. It was actually pretty quick, no more than 10 minutes, but it felt like a goddamn hour. Fucking seriously! I hate it when a movie challenges me to break my 30 minute rule. And just so you know how bad it has to be for me to break one of my own rules, one of the few movies where I did was The Bay.
I will preface this by saying, this movie was by no means as bad as The Bay. I'm not calling to have the lead characters sterilized and destroyed for the good of humanity. But the first 10 minutes were so damn hard to get through.
Fuck me, that's Meg Foster, Malcolm McDowell, and Richard Brake. You have to give Rob respect for employing some of the cast aside greats. And of course they do a fantastic job. But I have to say, this is by far and away the worst acting I've seen out of a Rob Zombie original. That's up to, including, and especially Sheri Moon Zombie. The worst part is, I know she can act. She proved she can do it in Lords of Salem. I don't know what drove her to do so much better in Lords of Salem, but she has no excuse to ever devolve from that level. If Rob is going to absolutely insist on having her in every fucking movie, and we KNOW she can do it, she can't let her cred slip.
I suppose it's fair to say that the acting matched the premise. Like Neon Maniacs, this movie was just a gore spectacle with a line up of slashers on parade. There was almost zero plot, and what plot they had was stolen from other movies with similar themes. It was The Hunger Games, meets Surviving The Game, meets The Running Man. Not that it was a direct rippoff of any of these, but it used similar themes. So, I guess it's okay for the acting to be kind of shitty, since we're not talking about the most amazing themes in cinematography.
The setting and atmosphere was pretty seriously dark and gritty. I really like the carnival fun-house theme that was piece mailed over an industrial facility. It's pretty charming for horror and I appreciate the effect. The slashers were lame as all fuck, though. I'll get into that more in the spoilers, but suffice to say, they were all pretty week save Doomhead and even Doomhead was generic as fuck. I expect full blown Rip and Grinder from "The Plague" in Hobo with a Shotgun. If you're gonna go grind-house, go full fucking grind-house or go the fuck home. Shit, the only reason Doomhead even impressed me was because he's played by the venerable Richard Brake and he went all-the-fucking-way-in with the character.
Here's the thing. Much as the first 10 minutes were obnoxious, much as the acting was shit, much as the slashers were generic, this movie is okay. It's entertaining and that's all that fucking matters. There is no shame in an old fashioned grind-house style gore spectacle if that's what you're into.
Obviously, Hardcore Horror Heads only, but I can recommend it.
Black guy dies first. And when the fuck did they have the time to cut open and prepare his body as food?! They give you the time between when he dies and when his body is discovered and they had less than a fucking hour to prepare a four course fucking meal. Rob, I fucking challenge you to have one of you black actors last a full fucking movie. They don't even have to survive, just make it to the final scene.
No disrespect to little people and their culture, but I call 'Child's Play is in Effect' on Little Hitler, AKA Sickhead. He had the intimidation artistry down, but he should have been a stealth killer. I'm fucking sorry, but unless he's a kung-fu master, no little guy is going to take down two full grown adults by himself without isolating them and getting the drop on them. Hell, he clearly knew how to use one character as bait to get the other, but then just whole sale fucks Shari Moon's character up! I'm not saying I wouldn't take a little person with two switchblades seriously, but I certainly wouldn't be all that concerned if I had him dead to rights with a fucking baseball bat. That's reach and power.
The other killers bored me so much they're just getting an honorable mention. Two gangly hillbillies with chainsaws and a weird BDSM couple.
The only one I really want to talk about is Doomhead. This was clearly inspired by Heath Ledger's Joker, and that's okay. Richard Brake didn't just do some lame rehash of the same character, he made that shit his own. Doomhead is scary as fuck, not because the character concept was interesting, but because Richard made him fucking scary. Doomhead is poet of extreme violence. He's got the skills, sure, but his only interest is carnage.
I thought the ending was fitting. The only reason Doomhead didn't kill everyone left is because he got too playful, started monologing, and ran out of time. This whole thing is on a time limit, you see. It did smack as kinda an armature movie though, and seemed a little out of character, but it was one of the best way for him to be defeated as a villain. He defeated himself with his own M.O.
My problem is that Sheri Moon's character should have taken the sudden distraction of the game ending, pulled out a knife or some shit, and shanked Doomhead in the fucking neck. That would have been complete poetic justice.
I'm also disappointed they did fuck all with the game hosts actually having someone survive. They make this huge fucking point about how it's never happened before, but they just blow off any real development from this consequence. The ring leader just has Doomhead go after Sheri Moon's character for surviving. Seems like Rob wrote himself into a corner and didn't know how to end the movie.
All the same, I can still recommend this to Hardcore Horror Heads.