*** This review may contain Zombie spoilers ***
Five carnival workers are kidnapped and held hostage in a large compound and are forced to play a twisted game of life or death called 31.
Director Rob Zombie offers a 70’s style horror which harks back to the gritty Last House on the Left days of brutal film and channels video nastiest, beards and flares. 31 is bloody, graphic and offensive with vibes of Hostel, Texas Chiansaw, The Running Man and Battle Royal to name a few.
While it may not be Zombie’s most original film this 1970s set dark, violent, murder play is not for the faint hearted. Any who likes Zombie’s work will know what to expect tonally and will enjoy this nightmarish addition, however, 31 has debatably the most straightforward narrative of his work to date.
The addition of the theatrical, renaissance game leaders who run and bet on the games from the safety of a theatre adds some visual flare. As the ‘contestant’ fight for survival in a warehouse factory like setting for 12 hours Sheri Moon Zombie’s Charly character gets the most development. Notable are veteran Meg Foster, excellent Jeff Daniel Phillips and Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs. Malcom Macdowell is perfectly cast as as Father Napoleon- Horatio-Silas Murder an eccentric aristocrat. Richard Brake as cigar smoking, switchblade, greatest of hunter killers Doom-Head is memorable.
There’s wince inducing horrid murder setups, killer chainsaw clowns, Nazi midgets, a giant man and his sidekick psycho girlfriend. The period soundtrack and John 5 Carpenter-like score accompanying the on screen shenanigans is perfect.
Zombie’s flare with freeze frames, swipes, 8mm footage and a horror carnival atmosphere from David Daniel’s cinematography is commendable. Halloween 1 & 2 aside even with its graphic offensive nature it feels like Zombie’s most warped, yet, mainstream film.
With its ending setting itself up for a sequel it’s recommend for those who enjoy the horror torture sub genre.