A part of me, strangely, wants to physically fight Rob Zombie. Ok, I should probably clarify this. For those of us a little longer in the tooth, we have probably all had that ONE friend. That one friend who was undoubtedly smarter, wittier, and infinitely more talented than we were. That one friend who just repeatedly failed to launch that we kept taking in because we just knew that one day, this was the next Pollock, the next Spielberg or the next Stephen King. That friend that after two years on your couch and over 700 packets of YOUR ramen noodles that he had to eat because working a regular job or ANY job was just totally beneath them!!! THAT FRIEND!!!
So, collectively we’ve taken Rob Zombie in, we’ve put him up on the couch in the basement and we’ve shown him where we keep the poptarts…and we’ve WAITED. We’ve waited for him to find his footing, we’ve waited for him because we just knew that sooner or later, his brilliance would contribute in greater ways than repaying us for our last Cup o’ Noodles he just swore he didn’t touch. Mr. Zombie? Get the fuck off our couch.
You see? I don’t want a world without Rob Zombie. I love that we have a personality that still unapologetically champions their love of horror. I like the world just fine with Rob Zombie in it, I just want him to start paying a little rent. Cuz, let’s face it, Zombie has been coasting by on being Rob Zombie for a while, and all we really wanna see is the films he’s promised us, not glimpses of his potential.
So…31. Yup. We open with a grease-painted maniac on a soap box talking about death and how fuckin crazy he is and blah, blah, blah. I mean, do we even have to take the time right now to make the comparison to another Rob Zombie film just so we can use the term “one trick pony”? Next we cut to a group of completely unrelatable characters talkin about sex, havin sex, smoking weed, totally representing the average person in the late 70’s. I was born in ’75 and I remember the out-of-control hormones I faced as a toddler, so this is completely valid, btw. Fuck me dead, just talking about this movie is boring the shit outta me, but I digress. Next up, Sherri Moon Zombie fuckdolls her way on screen in usual fashion (again, cuz wife and shit) and opens up her mouth to bring any semblance of forward momentum to a screeching halt. I believe some day we will actually get a good performance outta this woman. I can see it in there, struggling to get out like a muffled sneeze or a pinched turd…sigh. Well, until Zombie gets caught up in some weird kind of Portugese beasitality sex ring and she takes her wares to the first follicularly challenged Italian Hollywood moneybags producer that accidentally puts her in front of a director that gives a shit about line delivery we are treated to the same kind of stilted pterodactyl shriek that Moon mistakes for baby-talk.
So next up Meg Foster’s skeleton hops around talkin about money flying out of her vagina while PeeWee Herman’s girlfriend sizes the crew up for all kinds of nasty that is about to go down as soon as Moon gets done giving an over the clothes handjob to a toothless gas station attendant. (I might be condensing the finer plot points here to save character count…) Our group of ragtag carnival employees…ok, at this point I’m not even sure this is a traditional carnival or if its just a bus full of facial hair, cowboy hats and delusions, but I’m pretty sure somebody said something about a county fair or a cakewalk or something. Anyways, their road trip ends abruptly when their bus is overtaken by …oh jesus…marauders? …sure…and the survivors of the attack are taken to the set of the Running Man where Lambchops, Moon, Foster’s autopsy and two black dudes whose characters are so poorly developed it almost feels like a hate crime, get to play the Hunger Games in front of the cast of Dangerous Liaisons. It’s all pretty much the same ole tired paint by numbers Zombie sleazesploitation from the first act to the last and its just…frustrating.
We have hints of characters that could possibly mean something if we weren’t treated to the same over-sexed, strung out, rebels without a clue dialog. We have a subplot that points to ritual sacrifice or an aristocratic devil cult that might have just been the most interesting device in the film, but it instead chose to drag its mysteries off camera. We have so much shaky cam violence that its hard to even call it gore because by the time you stop seizing from watching the erratic cinematography you might have actually just seen a tomato get pulped…albeit one with a lot of facial hair. The point is that 31 is filled with “hints of” “might haves” and “insteads” but not anything engaging enough to be considered satisfying. Horror doesn’t want or need the “late for school, grab something on the way out” show-and-tell that Zombie tends to give us. It needs the “spent all night going through my toybox” show and tell we’ve been repeatedly promised. NOT RECOMMENDED.