On Rob Zombie’s 31 (2016)

by Kayann Mitchell

As one of the like 10 people who LOVED Lords Of Salem and one of the millions that worship at the altar of The Devils Rejects, I was greatly anticipating 31. Rob Zombie, like always kept his cards close to his chest about the plot of the movie, simply stating it involved carnies, clowns, and Halloween. Those words alone managed to pique massive curiosity among horror and Zombie fans alike. Would we get another Captain Spaulding? Or better?

31 opens on Devil’s Night with a group of carnies: Charly (Sheri Moon Zombie), Roscoe (Jeff Daniel Phillips), Panda (Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs), Venus (Meg Foster), and Levon (Kevin Jackson) on their way to their next gig. Smokin’ pot, getting laid, and talkin’ shop as they motor on. After stopping for gas and making their way across the back roads, they come across a set of creepy scarecrows in the middle of the road completely blocking their way. Charly implores Roscoe and Panda to shift them so they can get on with it. But in doing so the group are ambushed by giant black capped clowns and taken hostage.

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Once in captivity the group are introduced to a trio of white faced bewigged strangers, Father Murder (Malcolm McDowell), Sister Dragon (Judy Geeson), and Sister Serpent (Jane Carr), who introduce the gang to the game 31. A game in which the 5 carnies have 12 hours to try to stay alive in a maze of death and sex as a gaggle of crazed clowns use knives, chainsaws, and other implements to torment and torture the group.

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That friends is where I leave you. Why spoil the surprise? Which isn’t really a surprise because as much as it hurts me to say this 31 is not good. Not good in a bad, bad way. The dialogue feels so trite and forced like Mr. Zombie was writing it strictly for its quotability rather than cohesion. Don’t even with the least scary clowns ever put to film. Ronald McDonald holds more terror. Nothing about this film works. It’s all offensive for offense sake never a truly shocking moment because trust me, you’ve seen all of this before and done so much better. 31 is a mess of a movie that truly isn’t worth the effort unless you’re a completist or a dipped in the wool Zombie fan. Otherwise y’all’d do better to just re-watch The Devils Rejects and call it a day.

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