It is 31 days before Halloween and that happens to be the name of Rob Zombie’s new crowd-funded, horror epic. 31 refers to a vicious game involving killer clowns who hold hostages captive in a warehouse. The object for the victim is to simply survive. Set on Halloween in 1976, the hostages are a troupe of carnival employees who are ill-equipped to play the game.
Horror movies work best with a simple plot and 31 liberally borrows from the Richard Connell’s short, story classic The Most Dangerous Game and Stephen King’s The Running Man. The conflict is visceral, with several theatrical touches that suggest pseudo-intellectual depth.
As the masters of ceremonies, Malcolm McDowell, Judy Geeson and Jane Carr watch the game and wager on the sidelines. The voice of Malcolm McDowell is by far the most horrific aspect of 31. Reminiscent of the classic radio programs like Inner Sanctum, Suspense and The Twilight Zone, McDowell’s vocal intonation provides a pure “theater-of-the-mind” experience.
Unfortunately, the visualization does not live up to McDowell’s vocal artistry. Due to murky cinematography and fast-paced editing, the showdown between the killer clowns with funny names (Sex-Head, Doom-Head, Sick-Head) and the hostages become the dullest part of 31.