Tuesday, October 3, 2017

31 (2016) movie review

31 (2016) d. Zombie, Rob (USA) (1st viewing)

Kicking the Seat podcast mogul Ian Simmons approached me with the notion of checking out the latest from Mr. Dragula Himself as a means of a) kicking off the Halloween season and b) maintaining our ongoing patronage of the ever-polarizing horror writer/director. (As documented in 2013’s review of The Lords of Salem, I find myself more and more to be a fan of the artist while not really enjoying the art itself.)

With 31, Zombie delivers one right up the middle, ticking off every cliché box that his presumed fanbase could ask for: A quintet of trash-talking lowlife midway rats (Sherri Moon Zombie, Jeff Daniel Phillips, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, Meg Foster, Kevin Jackson) traveling between gigs are waylaid by highwaymen (or highwayclowns, because clowns are, you know, scarier) and spirited away to an abandoned industrial compound where they are hunted down by an assortment of bizarre freaks for the amusement of a trio of upper-upper-class twats (Malcolm McDowell, Judy Geeson, Jane Carr).

The crude, F-bomb laden dialogue is neither clever nor realistic, which is to say that it sounds like every other Rob Zombie movie, uttered gamely by the filmmaker’s expanding ensemble of players. (At least 75% of the main cast members have appeared in previous efforts, and let's hope he invites '80s teen flick staple E.G. Daily back for more because she looks fantastic at 56 and delivers the goods.)

Savagery and nihilism abound, but the biggest shock is how unshocking it all is: we’ve seen it all before in his previous five live-action feature efforts (setting aside the literal cartoon that is The Haunted World of Superbeasto, its own beasto indeed). The result is a greatest hits album that should thrill the faithful while managing not bore the rest of us. It also offers a grand showcase role to Brit character man Richard Brake as Doom-Head, the most charismatic of the assassins; his charismatic supporting turn is almost reason enough to give 31 a spin.


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