“From the macabre mind of Rob Zombie (House of 1000 Corpses, The Lords of Salem, The Devil’s Rejects), comes his newest nightmare, 31, arriving on Blu-ray and DVD December 20 from Lionsgate. Clowns have never been as terrifying as they are in the course of this one shocking evening in the middle of nowhere. Currently available on Digital HD and On Demand, 31 stars Sheri Moon Zombie (House of 1000 Corpses), Jeff Daniel Phillips (HBO’s “Westworld”), Elizabeth Daily (Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure), Meg Foster (The Lords of Salem), Kevin Jackson (Conspiracy Theory), Richard Brake (Batman Begins), Judy Geeson (TV’s “Gilmore Girls”) and Malcolm McDowell (Halloween).
From the visionary mind of Rob Zombie comes the horrific story of five carnival workers who are kidnapped on Halloween and held hostage in a large compound. At the mercy of their captors, they are forced to play a twisted game of life or death called 31. For the next 12 hours they must fight for their lives against an endless parade of homicidal maniacs.”
Back in October, Rob Zombie released his new film 31 for a limited time in limited theaters. I was able to snag a couple of tickets and drove roughly thirty minutes to see the film on opening night, as I have done with every theatrical release of every Rob Zombie film. If you saw the film during that limited release, you got to watch an exclusive Q&A session with Rob and a behind the scenes documentary.
In October, I did not give the film the greatest of reviews. I was sick the night I saw 31 and sometimes feeling off can skew the way you take in a film. As I like to do with films I did not enjoy the first time, I gave 31 a second chance to see if anything improved.
The film itself is not an original idea. In fact, the idea of taking people and tossing them into a death match game has been done multiple times over. The Running Man is probably the most popular example of this and, more recently, The Purge:Anarchy used the same idea, briefly. So, when 31 was pitched to include clowns in this deadly game of cat and mouse, I had hoped Zombie would have done something spectacular to make the stolen concept a bit less obvious. Unfortunately, that did not happen.
Upon a second viewing, this was even more apparent as it had been my main focus the first time around and was something I could not shake. The dialogue and film felt rushed and, at times, childish. There wasn’t a lot of time to get to really know the characters, which made them hard to feel bad for since we, the audience, did not get the opportunity to connect to them. I hated that Malcolm McDowell played such an awful role with such horrible dialogue for a man of his talents. He was wasted in the scattered moments we actually got to see him.
Then we have the clowns. I spent a good chunk of my life terrified of clowns. Pennywise, Ronald McDonald, Bozo…these are terrifying clowns. The 31 “clowns” were not terrifying. There was so much potential wasted on the concept of killer clowns that it made the film even MORE disappointing.
In terms of special features, we do get commentary with Rob Zombie but then we are given this two hour long behind the scenes documentary on the making of the film called “In Hell, Everybody Loves Popcorn: The Making Of 31.” Of all of the Rob Zombie films to include a behind the scenes documentary, 31 was not the film for it. The documentary is far too long, it’s beyond boring and at times, a bit pretentious. I left the theater about 30 minutes into it and forced myself to sit through the entire thing this time. It just wasn’t worth it.
Look, I still won’t sit here and tell you that 31 is a bad movie because I don’t think it is. I think it is a mediocre movie by a great director. I think it was rushed and mostly a waste of talent by everyone. I would consider it my least favorite of the Rob Zombie films but I won’t tell you it is a bad movie. You will be entertained in the way watching old Xena reruns is entertaining, but you won’t find that spark you were given with The Devil’s Rejects.