While his films have attracted as much critical condemnation as they have plaudits, there can be little doubt that, over the course of five movies, Rob Zombie has delivered a style very much his own.

Brutal, garish, chock full of obscenity and hardcore violence and often very uncomfortable viewing, Zombie’s output can prove an exhausting watch.

And, guess what? 31 is more of the same.

A no-holds-barred, relentless orgy of excess, there are DNA strands of work like House of 1,000 Corpses running all through this offering – and to be honest I’m still not really sure how much I enjoyed it.

Things waste little time in getting going, and after a nice axe-in-the-stomach prologue to kick things off, we are introduced to an RV stuffed with a gaggle of carnival workers – the sort of foul-mouthed, overly-sexed, hideously dislikeable characters that populate Zombie’s work (led once again by Sheri Moon Zombie no less).

After some backseat sex, crude jokes and a pervy interlude at a gas station, the gang find their late-night route come to a grinding halt thanks to a strange blockade on the road. Before you know it, the carnival crew are kidnapped and shipped off to a bizarre collection of mazes and cages, forced to indulge in a very real fight for survival against a wildly over-the-top cadre of clown-like figures.

With names like Sex-Head, Doom-Head and even Psycho-Head, there’s no prize for guessing these sordid characters have bloodshed on their mind, all under the watchful eye of controller-of-sorts Father Murder (Malcolm McDowell).

And from there it is simply a case of who will survive, and what will be left of them….. (to nick a tagline from a famous genre flick)

That’s about it as far as plot goes, as Zombie seems more interested in pushing the envelope in terms of in-your-face antics than anything else.

To an extent that is all well and good, and I was certainly impressed by the sheer verve and force of the whole thing.

Performances are a real mixed bag, often difficult to decipher due to the obvious need for so many of these characters to be odious lowlifes.

There is plenty to recommend here, and if you want a brutal, ballsy, relentless, visceral gut-punch of a filmic experience then 31 is definitely the film for you.

But if plot, characters you can root for and suggestion rather than excess is more your thing, why would you be watching a Rob Zombie film in the first place?

Horror Channel Frightfest review: 31
3.0Overall Score
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About The Author

Simon Fitzjohn

Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written two books, one on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014) and the other on the history of the character Norman Bates (2015). His third book, on the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker, is due in 2017.