Five carnival workers are kidnapped and held hostage in an abandoned, hellish compound where they are forced to participate in a violent game, the goal of which is to survive twelve hours against a gang of sadistic clowns.
Heidi, a radio DJ, is sent a box containing a record - a "gift from the Lords". The sounds within the grooves trigger flashbacks of her town's violent past. Is Heidi going mad, or are the Lords back to take revenge on Salem, Massachusetts?
Sheri Moon Zombie,
Filmed during the summer of 2013 after the release of Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor, Rob Zombie's first concert film features shows from the Houston and Dallas, Texas, during the Mayhem Festival Tour.
The day before Halloween, five carnival employees are kidnapped & held hostage in an isolated compound known as "Murderworld". On Halloween, they are thrown into a sadistic game called "31" where they must survive 12 hours against a gang of maniacs dressed like clowns. It's time to play 31.
When announcing the casting of Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, Rob Zombie announced him as being "the manager of a traveling roadshow known as The Venus Lux Happy Time Fun Show". Later, when announcing Jeff Daniel Phillips, Zombie called him "the ass-kicking carney mechanic of Venus Virgo's traveling show", inexplicably changing the show-within-a-film's-title. Zombie has not addressed this apparent memory slip. See more »
[to Charly, Roscoe, Venus, Panda, and Levon, who are bound and gagged]
I bid you welcome, oh nameless and numbered ones! Tonight, we are going to play 31! What is 31, pray tell? Well, 31 is war and, as the old saying goes, war is Hell!
In exactly one hundred and twenty seconds, we shall begin. And all you have to do is survive twelve hours inside the walls of our own private little Hell.
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I dig Rob Zombie films. Devils Rejects, the Halloween reboots, Lords of Salem all personal favorites. So much so that I contributed $150 to the crowd funding of 31. It was promised to be the movie RZ wanted to make as well as the movie he thought his fans wanted to see - an unapologetic and uncompromising slaughter-fest. Well, I finally watched 31 last night and unfortunately it does compromise and it isn't even much of a slaughter-fest. It's simply another "we-kidnapped-some-innocent-people-for-the-purpose-of-torturing-them" retread. And not a very good one at that. I'm bummed.
There are certainly moments that make 31 worth watching. But those moments just aren't enough to make it a good movie. Much of the criticism of 31 has been directed at the lack of character development. My comment to that is "who cares?". This is a movie where I wanted to sink into my seat and cover my eyes due to the extreme and unrelenting gore. I wanted to feel like I did when I first saw Dawn of The Dead in theaters in 1980 - unable to look, but unable to look away utterly horrified by images I'd never seen before walking out exhilarated, out of breath, and laughing at myself for being so freaked out by a movie. If anyone could do it, Rob could.
Alas, most of 31 is just another quick-cut, shaky-cam exercise that does manage to force the viewer to look away - just not out of disgust, but to keep from getting a headache from the excessively annoying hand-held shots and machine-gun editing. More often than not, you can't even tell what's going on in the action scenes. There are lots of half second images of blood- soaked faces, and blood-soaked clothing, and blood-soaked weapons but we can't tell who's getting chopped up and who's doing the chopping.
31 opens with a monologue from villainous clown Doom Head. It's a great scene that draws you in. The idea that he was, of course, going to show up again by the end of the film was the only thing that kept me from walking out. He does show up in the final 15 minutes, but it's too little, too late. It was already to the point where I couldn't care less what happened to these people and I knew however the inevitable deaths were played out wasn't going to be anything interesting or inventive. I was right. In between the opening and closing Doom Head bookends there is absolutely nothing of interest. A little unsuccessful character development silly villains that are far too easy for our heroes to kill pompous ringmasters that add nothing and could have been cut out completely it all made me want my $150 back.
I assume there will be an unrated version somewhere down the line that I'll watch and re- evaluate, but I can't imagine it saving this waste of fake blood and Malcolm McDowells talent. If you want to see an interesting, scary clown movie try 2014's Clown (he eats children!) if you want gut-wrenching gore watch the Evil Dead remake again. The only reason to see 31 is it's an RZ flick and to be properly schooled in modern horror you need to see all RZ offerings - at least for now. A few more throwaways like this and Rob will just be another straight to Netflix hack director.
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