(br) wrote: Rob Zombie reminds me more of a horror version of Kevin Smith. Well, really, with the one exception that Zombie didn't have his first film showered with critical praise like Smith was for Clerks. What I mean by that is that, at this point, I don't think that Zombie is doing this for anyone other than himself. And I'm not even saying that he wasn't like that before, but I'm certain that there was a part of him, when he first was making House of 1000 Corpses that he would show people that he really could be an effective filmmaker. That didn't really transpire for House of 1000 Corpses, but you got to see flashes of potential with his follow-up movie, The Devil's Rejects which, to me, is still his best movie. He had a style that, while obviously influenced by the 70s grindhouse scene, still felt very much his own. It was stylish in a dirty and grimy sort of way. His previous two movies, the Halloween remake and its sequels, were an obvious step down in quality. And I never saw The Lords of Salem, though I did hear it was ambitious. The point is that, perhaps more than ever, Zombie is doing this simply because he enjoys making films. The fact that anyone else may like them, or they may not for that matter, doesn't play any part on why he makes films. And that's certainly an attitude I can respect, even from a manchild like Kevin Smith. But I digress, as far 31 goes. It feels very much like a spiritual sequel to The Devil's Rejects, both in terms of look, setting, time, cool 70s rock soundtrack. Is it a movie that's as good as The Devil's Rejects? Eh, not even close. At least for my liking. There are some people who believe that Zombie hasn't made a good movie yet and I maintain that The Devil's Rejects is the only good one he has. Personally, to me, part of the reason that I don't think that Zombie has grown as a filmmaker, or even found the same level of success as a filmmaker as he has as a musician, is the fact that he, seemingly, insists on casting his own wife, Sheri Moon Zombie, in an important role in, pretty much, every one of his goddamn movies. Sheri, as an actress, has only appeared in ONE movie that wasn't directed by her husband. She also appeared in one of the fake trailers that appeared in 2007's Grindhouse that was directed, you guessed it, by her husband as well. I'm sure Sheri Moon Zombie is a lovely human being, not saying anything negative about her on a personal level, but she is a horrifyingly bad actress. Just the worst. She even found her way into the Halloween remake, even if she committed suicide early on. She also found her way onto the remake's sequel, by way of flashbacks, flashbacks that I'm sure were written to get her in the film. So, yea, his insistence on casting his wife in everything he does has certainly kept him from higher profile gigs and she is really a detriment to the quality of the films. She's that bad. You could sort of hide her in the Devil's Rejects because Sid Haig and Bill Moseley are both great character actors, so Sheri's awfulness didn't stand out so much. In this movie, though, where almost everyone of the good guys is a terrible actor, she stands out more than everyone. And guess who's the only person to survive the entire ordeal? Yea. This movie didn't really do much for me. It's obviously inspired by the Purge, with a few little twists. This aristocratic group of elderly people, who I'm sure are wealthy, kidnap these people every year on Halloween night and take them to this large building, where they will play the game, the titular 31. Essentially, the game consists of a group of innocent people being hunted down by a group of maniacs for 12 hours. You get to see the 'big bad' of the maniacs at the beginning of the film, in a scene that took place during the previous year's game of 31. This is one of the problems from the very beginning, though you only think about it in hindsight, when it takes forever for the real villain of the movie to show up to make an actual impact. There are five maniacs before the real bad one shows up. And that really dulls the impact of the death of every character in the film, because you know the movie isn't really gonna move forward in any way before Doom-Head, the villain I'm referring to, shows up. So that means that a great chunk of the movie really is just killing time, sorry for the pun. And that's the last thing you really want to think about when it comes to this type of film, or any film for that matter, that you're just wasting time until the climax or until someone important arrives. Like I said, it makes any of the deaths that happen before that, this film's most valuable resource, unimportant. And, even with the acting being below standards from the 'good guys', the movie isn't horrible or anything like that. When I say that this movie is a spiritual sequel to The Devil's Rejects, I mean that. So that means that the stylishly dark and grimy feel is back and I liked that aspect of the film. The soundtrack is also really cool. The narrative is meh. The fact that it seems so much inspired by the Purge isn't a favorable comparison. The first Purge movie is even better than this, and I wouldn't call that a good movie to begin with. Don't even get me started on its sequels, both of which are good movies, when compared to this. Though, to be fair, both films vary in approach. The Purge sequels take more of an action/horror approach, so the violence isn't as gruesome as 31's violence wishes to be. And I say wishes to be, because the gore isn't that good either. It just feels considerably low-budget than the rest of the film, which does go after a dirtier look, though that doesn't mean it's a low-budgeted affair. The narrative is nothing to speak of either, you don't really get to know much about the aristocrats who bet on who's going to die last, or something, or why they play this game every year on Halloween night. I'd say that this is something that a sequel could more than make up for, but it's not like I really would like a sequel to this movie anyway. It doesn't have as great a concept as the Purge, where you could have gone so many different places with the sequel. The potential for this one is far more limited. The actors, at least on the villain side, are far better than the actors for the people that you're actually supposed to cheer for. So that was weird. Richard Brake is really good here. He doesn't have the best delivery at times, but he's got a very intimidating presence about him. His face certainly helps for that. The whole look with the face paint and the blood, his own, was cool as well. That's really some of the only things I like about the movie. Oh and the ending itself is pretty cool, if purposely vague. Though you're obviously leaning towards one direction. But the ending, with its use of Dream On by Aerosmith, a phenomenal song, recalls the ending of the Devil's Rejects with Freebird by Lynyrd Skynyrd. And, really, to me, that might actually be the biggest problem with this movie. It's the fact that it's just too much like The Devil's Rejects to truly be a good movie. You know it's a bad sign when all I was thinking while watching this was how TDR was such a better movie. I shouldn't be thinking that at any point. It's meant to be a completely different movie and yet it feels like more of the same. The maniacs in this movie are just a slight variation on characters we saw in Zombie's first two flicks. Now Zombie does create some effectively maniacal characters, but it's really more of the same. And that's a shame, even though I'm obviously not gonna say that Zombie is a great screenwriter, I just wish he'd spread his wings some more and do something different. I suppose that's what The Lords of Salem was and that was the one I DIDN'T watch. Maybe I will some day, if Netflix or Amazon Prime adds it to their sites. This isn't a terrible movie, I've seen much worse, but the fact is that this still isn't a good movie. It's barely below average. The shitty acting, the substandard gore and the fact that I've seen this before, except done much better, keep this from being a good or memorable experience. Watch at your own risk.