Visuals / Camera
Pacing / Editing
Entertainment Value / X-Factor
Mood / Atmosphere
Another disappointment, courtesy of Rob Zombie.
This is going to be a review of Rob Zombie’s latest efforts in the horror genre, 31, and what will undoubtedly be his last efforts with film in general.
As horror fans, we’ve been long overdue for a good horror flick featuring clowns, and we’ve damn sure been overdue for a decent slasher flick. That’s why I was so excited for 31, as it combined both of these elements together. Despite Zombie’s track record being horrendous, and the fact that he had to get this one crowdfunded, which I think speaks volumes as far as his work is concerned, I was still willing to keep a completely open mind, and watch 31 without bias.
I was horribly disappointed.
So, why is 31 going to be Rob Zombie’s last film?
Let’s face it, Zombie’s done. He’s been done since his one hit wonder, The Devil’s Rejects, but 31 is just the nail in the coffin. Much like his characters in The Devil’s Rejects, it’s going to be the last ride Zombie gets to take as far as the film industry is concerned.
The name of the game in Hollywood is being able to produce films that can turn a profit. If you make a poor product, you can still turn a profit if you’re lucky. However, if you continue to push out shitty products, you’re going to cause someone to go bankrupt. It’s the whole “fool me one, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me,” mentality. Your audience is only going to be so forgiving, and then they’re going to be finished with you. That being said, Rob Zombie has proven himself to be an investor’s worst nightmare in Hollywood.
This is the man that damn near drove the Weinstein brothers to bankruptcy with Halloween II, as the film was distributed by Dimension Films, which is, of course, owned by The Weinstein Company. Now, don’t get the wrong idea, as Halloween II did turn a profit, but it was still considered a failure, as it certainly didn’t live up to expectations. After Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’s joint venture, Grindhouse, flopped, the Weinstein’s were hoping that the potential success of Halloween II could pull them out of hot water, but it nearly drowned them, instead. This would be the last time Zombie would be entrusted with a budget of any significance, and also would be the last time he’d get to work with one of the big name studios.
Zombie would go on to shit out a couple more stinkers, one of which boasts the lowest-rating of any of his films to date — The Lords of Salem, which is only 0.2 points below the rating for 31 at the time of writing this review. By the time you’re reading this, don’t be surprised if 31 has dethroned The Lords of Salem as being Zombie’s poorest rated film.
Rob Zombie Spat In The Face of His Crowdfunding Contributors
With no studios willing to touch Zombie anymore, he only had a couple of options left: finance his own project, or launch a crowdfunding effort. Of course, he decided to exploit his fanbase and launch a crowd funder for 31.
Personally, I consider crowdfunding to be something that’s best suited for an independent artist of any sort, or an inventor that’s trying to get their project off the ground. These are people that have dreams they want to pursue, and they seek financial aid from others to help them attain their goals. Typically, these people are trying to break into their desired field, and just simply want a chance — a shot.
I do not consider crowd funding to be a tactic that should, ethically speaking, be employed by a 50+ year-old man that’s been active for 30+ years and currently has 40 million dollars sitting in the bank. I don’t know about the rest of you, but when I have a project I’d like to start, I, most like other artists, fund it myself. Sure, if it’s an enthusiastic project, and you don’t have the cash for it, go ahead and try crowdfunding. However, when you’re chilling in your mansion with $40 million in your bank account, and your wife has $5 million, I think you can safely fund a $1.5 million venture (31‘s budget). This should especially be the case if you have any faith in yourself and your project whatsoever.
Still yet, Zombie decided to seek out his fans for support, and his crowdfunding attempt, which he launched not once — but twice — was a success. This man received hard-earned money from fans, and that’s totally cool. Hell, if you have the money to do it, and you want to be part of a film’s production, that’s totally up to you, and I could easily find myself doing the same thing. However, Zombie has essentially spat in the face of his fans.
Zombie’s main reasoning for having this film crowdfunded, besides allowing fans to be a part of “something special,” which is laughable in its own right, is that Hollywood “won’t fund films like this anymore.” — Yeah, I wonder fucking why.
So, Zombie promised to release something that would be raw, gritty, wouldn’t be butchered, and he’d be able to do his own thing, since he wouldn’t have a studio looming over his head. What’s one of the first things he did? He sent the film to the MPAA, so he could get it shown in select theaters, which is the version everyone’s getting to see right now. Apparently, he had to re-cut the film three different times, and re-submit it to get an R-rating. Since the reviews have been less-than-stellar, this is the excuse going around by Zombie nut-huggers, because we’re not getting to see the uncut version, which is Zombie’s “real vision,” and America’s rating system “butchers movies.”
There should only be one version of this film ever released, and it should have been the uncut version, because that’s what the fans funded this effort for in the first place, and it’s bullshit that Zombie is trying to milk the shit of this movie as much as possible before widely releasing it. He’s trying to make as much money off of a film in which he has no personal financial stake in whatsoever. He’s pushed the release date back, he held a “special premiere,” for the film, of which he’s now holding a second “special premiere,” due to “popular demand.”
How about you just release the film that people have already paid for?
And he’s also going to undoubtedly release this special super duper uncut director’s cut version on DVD/Blu-Ray, which will be the only way you’ll get to see that version. In other words, more money lining his pockets.
He’s worn out his welcome with the companies in Hollywood, and now he’s essentially screwed over his fans. Unless he digs into his own personal piggy bank, you can bet that this will be Zombie’s last film.
Oh, and if you have any negative comments you’d like to share with him about the film on his social media accounts, you can expect them to be deleted, and you’ll end up being blocked. Meanwhile, he’ll leave the neutral and positive comments untouched.
My Review of 31
As I stated above, I watched 31 without bias, and I truly wanted this to be an awesome flick. The atmosphere couldn’t have been party. It was a dark and stormy night, I grabbed myself some freshly popped popcorn, and I turned all electronics off, so I could direct all of my attention to Zombie’s latest efforts. It didn’t take long for the disappointment to set in. To make things easier, I’m going to go ahead and break everything down.
Sheri Moon Zombie, as you probably guessed, takes the lead role in this one, which is the case with practically all of her husband’s movies. As I’ve said in the past, Zombie would include her in any of his movies, even if it made absolutely no sense, and meant that it would ruin his entire movie. If you need proof; refer to Halloween II. Unfortunately for us, Zombie is the ultimate cuck, and loves to parade his half-naked wife around for the whole world to see.
Sheri Moon doesn’t do a horrible job, but she’s not the leading lady material that Rob so desperately wants her to be. Particularly during some intense, emotional bits, you could tell that Sheri was simply out of her league. There were also some other rough instances in the film from some of the other cast members, but I think it was mostly the script / direction that hindered those performances. Sadly, I think the actors, in most cases, did the best they could with the sources they were provided.
Visuals / Camera
One point I’ll typically give Zombie is the fact that the dude’s films always have some very nice visuals in them, and that’s one thing I actually look forward to about his films — seeing what shots he may come up with next. Unfortunately, the decent shots in this film were very few and far between, and were simply outweighed by the outright bad cinematography. He went way overboard with the shaky camera, and the strobe light scene was, least to say, terribly annoying. Trust me, you’ll know what I’m talking about when you see it.
Something that’s safe to say about Zombie is the fact that the dude always seems to include an awesome soundtrack on all of his films. 31 is certainly no exception to this, and has some tunes in there that’ll have you saying “oh shit, I love this song!”
It goes without saying that Zombie’s writing abilities is certainly not his strong suit. It leaves me to wonder how his career as a director would have played out if he simply directed scripts that were written by someone else. 31 isn’t a breakthrough of an idea, and it’s not something that we haven’t seen before. However, it’s a slasher movie about killer clowns, so how could you really drop the ball? Unfortunately, Zombie finds a way, and the bad story really sticks out, and I’d go as far as to say it’s horrendous.
31 is basically like Eli Roth’s Hostel, but with even less of a plot. Why does 31 exist? Who are the people behind 31, and why? What happens if someone survives 31?
The answer to these questions are still unknown. Malcolm McDowell’s character is even asked the latter question during the film, to which he literally responds, “I don’t know.”
The ending was also a MAJOR disappointment. I’m not going to spoil it for anyone, but it’s quite possibly the laziest ending to a film that I’ve ever seen. If not, it’s a serious contender.
Pacing / Editing
There was no buildup in this film, there was no tension, and there was no suspense. Otherwise, the editing is exactly what you’d come to expect from a Rob Zombie film. There’s still frames, 16mm-esque videos of the protagonists, typical still frame transitions, choppy slowmotion, etc…
If you’ve seen Zombie’s previous work, then you’re already familiar with his typical cast of characters that he cuts and pastes into every film he writes/directs. Well, he does exactly the same thing here. We have your typical, ignorant, outspoken, foulmouthed hillbillies that Zombie tosses into all of his films. This applies to both the protagonists, as well as the antagonists. The protagonists, however, are completely unlikable, and unrelatable. Therefore, you feel absolutely nothing for them when they’re being hunted.
As for the antagonists, you don’t learn much about them, either. Once again, they’re your typical cut and paste Rob Zombie hillbilly characters that share the same traits as each other, and love to make perverse jokes. They are not intimidating in anyway, and Zombie writes dialogue for them that is absolutely atrocious, which is something we’ve come to expect over the years, but this is on a whole other level. You will not learn their motives, and you probably won’t even care.
I knew I was in for some major bullshit when the very first clown we get introduced to is “Sick-Head,” who is a knife-wielding midget that speaks in Spanish and wears Nazi memorabilia.
Just let that sink in for a moment…
Entertainment Value / X-Factor
This film doesn’t have any entertainment value. You won’t take anything away from this, and there’s absolutely no replay value.
Mood / Atmosphere
Zombie’s proven he can capture the Halloween atmosphere, as he did just that with Halloween and Halloween II, but he failed to do that with 31, which is supposed to take place on Halloween.
What else can I really say? All politics aside, this isn’t a good movie, and Rob Zombie dropped the ball in a major way with this one. It’s the equivalent of one of the numerous crappy horror flicks you’ll find while scrolling through Netflix. Without a doubt, I’d say this will be Mr. Zombie’s last venture as a filmmaker.