Rob Zombie made a definite statement with his gruesome, sun-dappled 2005 bandit-horror film The Devil”s Rejects, which suggested there was real talent and narrative sophistication lurking beneath the shock-show antics of his debut effort The House of 1000 Corpses. It was decidedly not a movie for everyone, but it garnered critical plaudits from such respected critics as Roger Ebert and Salon”s Andrew O”Hehir, and even Quentin Tarantino and Stephen King chimed in their approval by naming it one of their favorite films of the year. And then Halloween happened.
Unlike a lot of folks, I actually appreciate what Zombie tried to do with that remake, even if demystifying Michael Myers was ultimately the wrong approach to take. The end product was famously an overcrowded mess, with a first half that unconvincingly tried to explain Myers” rise by placing him in a stereotypical “white-trash” scenario and a latter half that squashed the plot of John Carpenter”s original into less than an hour of screentime. The superior second film was a purer distillation of Zombie”s artistic vision, but its box office underperformance suggested that fans of the franchise had come away too dispirited by its predecessor to bother showing up.
For my money, Zombie is a talented filmmaker who would probably be better off commercially if he directed scripts written by other people. The fact that he won”t is a testament to his hellbent belief in his own vision, and you have to respect that even if you aren”t a fan of the movies he puts out.
Speaking of which, the trailer for Zombie's latest effort, the Sundance-debuted gore flick 31, appears to be more of the same, which – if you”re a fan of what that entails – will no doubt come as a welcome invitation. For the rest of us, the Saw-meets-Hunger Games premise, filtered through Zombie”s redneck-carnival-funhouse aesthetic, is probably a pass.
31 hits VOD on September 16 and theaters on October 21. Watch the trailer above or below.