Hate him or love him, Rob Zombie is a breath of fresh air in a horror genre littered with more of the same tired tropes. The man has created his own niche and continues making insane films that appease his fans while bringing new Zombie-ites into the fold. His latest film, 31, is here and it’s pretty much what you would expect from the director – loads of profanity, gore and gratuitous shots of his wife’s butt. And while there is plenty to say about the movie overall, today we will be talking about one specific aspect – the ending. Indeed, many people seem to be confused as to what the hell actually happened, and if you’ve seen the movie we can certainly understand why. So, needless to say a SPOILER ALERT is in full effect.
Combining elements of Battle Royale and The Running Man, the stage for Zombie’s latest journey into cinematic WTFuckery is simply set: Five carnies – Charly (Sheri Moon Zombie), Roscoe (Jeff Daniel Phillips), Panda (Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs), Levon (Kevin Jackson) and Venus (Meg Foster) – are abducted and forced to enter a survival game. Conceptualizing his scenario from the statistic that Halloween (i.e. October 31) is the day that the most people go missing, Zombie creates a “Murder World” where three bewigged British fops take mortality bets on the five captured circus folk as they are chased around an industrial labyrinth. Those doing the chasing are a series of pseudo-archetypal evil clowns.
The gang have to survive for a set amount of hours as they fight off their hunters. A lot of carnage ensues, but with just a few hours left, things start looking up for the group. Sure, two of them are dead but the remaining survivors have managed to not only stay alive but to kill off the bulk of their would-be killers. The powers that be don’t like this and call in their most skilled and talented executioner, Doom-Head (Richard Brake).
Donning his impromptu clown makeup, Doom-Head out-Jokers the Joker and proves to be a formidable killing machine. Literate, dirty, gross, effective and fully self-aware, Doom-Head takes out his first victim with ease, leaving just Charly and a very badly injured Roscoe to take care of next.
As the game nears a end, Charly and Roscoe find their friend mutilated and chained to wooden posts in front of a giant goat’s head until they are eventually greeted by Doom-Head and they run. The two find an exit which leads them to a hatch that goes down through a tunnel shaft that leads to the outside. Roscoe allows Charly to escape as he sacrifices himself in order to slow Doom-Head down.
Charly successfully escapes the compound and finds herself out in isolated rural road until she makes her way into an abandoned house where Doom-Head eventually finds her. When at the brink of finishing Charly off, the game is announced to be over leaving Doom-Head frustrated as he storms off angrily. He has lost. This has apparently never happened before. There has never been a survivor. When asked what the appropriate thing do in this situation is, the response is pretty much the equivalent of a “i dunno” shrug.
We then see a bloodied Charly walking aimlessly down the rural road. A van pulls up, it’s Doom-Head. He walks up behind her. When she realizes he’s there, she turns around and slowly balls up her fists. Doom-Head responds by maniacal smiling as he pulls out his favorite weapons of choice, two switchblades. CUT TO CREDITS.
So, is that it?
What exactly happened here? On the surface, it seems obvious. She’s bleeding out and clenches her fists. He’s drooling with two knifes brandished. Of course he kills her, right? Well, maybe not.
The fact that he didn’t kill her immediately after the game was over shows that he’s at least marginally bound by the rules of the Illuminati (or whatever they were). Perhaps he knew he had to then wait until there were no longer prying eyes before he could finish the job. But the way the scene is shot, you’d be forgiven for thinking that he was not only not going to kill her but he was maybe about to offer her a ride. After all, it really did just seem to be business with Doom-Head (not to say that he wasn’t enjoying the hell out of every minute of said business).
It has been suggested that if you survive the game they actually keep you and beat you into becoming one of their killer clowns. It would certainly fit in with a comment made by the chainsaw wielding Schizo-Head as he proclaims “we’re the same” before getting his head lopped off.
Though, one of the best things about a movie ending so open to interpretation is that there’s no real “solution”. And there are, of course, many ways to understand it.
With that being said, what do you guys think? Are we reading too much into all this? Do you have your own thoughts, theories, explanations or questions? Let us know in the comment section below.