Sundance Recap: “31”

MATT:    3.5 STARS


After a brief foray into the psychedelic mind-f***, Dario Argento-style horror film with “Lords of Salem,” Director Rob Zombie returns to his old stomping grounds with a 70s-inspired brutal, gory trip into a deadly funhouse in “31.”

The story focuses on a group of traveling carnival workers who are abducted by a mysterious group and trapped in a creepy abandoned factory with a series of murderous adversaries. Their challenge: to survive the evening. Stalked by wave after wave of killers (who are known only by their nicknames, Sick-Head, Death-Head, Sex-Head, and others) more ruthless and brutal than the last, the protagonists make their way through a series of gruesome and dismal rooms.

Gore fiends will find plenty to like here; the camera gleefully records blade and blunt instrument on bone and flesh. The actors — experienced but not well-known character actors, for the most part — turn in mostly workmanlike performances with the notable exception of one standout, Richard Brake (who plays Doom-Head). With Doom-Head, Mr. Zombie has created a memorably intimidating psychopath killer who by himself is a worthy successor to the Firefly clan featured in “House of 1000 Corpses” and “The Devil’s Rejects.” It is Doom-Head who opens the movie with a memorably macabre monologue, and it is the protagonists’ impending date with Doom-Head that we most anticipate and fear. When the characters do collide with one another, it does not disappoint.

While not his best movie, “31” is a strong and worthy entry to Mr. Zombie’s filmography.

Louisa was unavailable for review.


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