Rob Zombie’s 31 follows a van full of road-hardened carnies as they make their way to the next town and the next round of suckers for them to prey upon with their grimy shows and whores to soak dry and pay for the gas and weed to get them to the another stop on their tour. Unfortunately, that little tour runs into a literal roadblock manned by marauding clowns dressed in old-timey prison stripes, and the survivors soon find themselves trapped in a warehouse as pawns in a game called “31”, where a trio of sociopathic players dressed in Restoration-era finery, powdered wigs and makeup, send lethal killer after lethal killer their way, reassessing the odds of each survivor making it alive to see the dawn of the next day.
31 is essentially “Rob Zombie plays the hits!”. This includes, naturally, killer clowns, sleazy women, production design that will inspire another shower regardless of how recently you took the last one, appearances by a troupe of regulars from past films (Malcolm McDowell, Lew Temple, Ginger Lynn, E.G. Daily, Meg Foster, and of course – Sheri Moon Zombie), and lots of groovy, yet country-tinged 70s rock on the soundtrack to hum along to in tune with the sweet sound of chainsaws. So, Rob Zombie devotees will be able to happily go down that familiar checklist and not miss a beat as they cheer each kill. However, for those looking for the next level of artistry or commentary in Zombie’s oeuvre are likely to be left wanting more than a little bit. In fact, the most innovation is saved for the look of the killers – so much so, that you can see the inspiration for 2016/2017s horror convention cosplayers. And, again, not that any of that is a bad thing, it’s just a matter of managing one’s expectations.