Blackgate Prison is built on ground where massacres of one sort or another have occurred throughout the history of the United States. When a disused wing of the prison is reopened, all sorts of nastiness emerges. Michael Paré is the officer called in when a guard mysteriously commits suicide, but that is only the first of many unexplained deaths yet to come.
So here we go with another haunted prison film, and a great deal that we have seen before. Take a cinematic tone that seeks to borrow the eeriness of Session 9 (but fails), mix in creepy little girls in jump-cuts (from the J-horror remake of your choice), and season with a cast that’s a collection of down-on-their luck pros (Tom Sizemore) and a lead in Paré who clearly took the part when From Hell It Came’s tree turned the role down for something with more range. Wake me when it’s over. Our hero’s performance is not helped by a script that appears to be composed entirely of lines from CSI fan fiction.
I was initially quite favourably disposed towards the film, and hoping that it might turn out to be something just a bit more than its unprepossessing case promised, and that hope was almost entirely generated by the score. It is very atmospheric, and the mix is something I can’t recall having encountered before: the main theme moves from speaker to speaker. Unorthodox, yes, but very effective and creepy. The rest of the 5.1 track is solid work, with undistorted dialogue and a decent-enough sense of environment. So the music might keep you amused while the rest of the movies irritates.
Movie sounds good, movie looks good. There is a bit of grain, but there isn’t much. The colours are very strong, there is no edge enhancement, and the blacks are terrific. Nice, sharp image, too. These days, one would certainly expect no less, so what we have here is a package that looks and sounds just fine, but nonetheless really isn’t watchable.
Slim pickings. Six alternate scenes, and cast interviews (with Danny Trejo, Tom Sizemore, and Ja Rule). Said interviews are the usual promo fluff. If you really care, you can go hunting for an Easter Egg. I don’t.
Another soldier on the long march of mediocrity. Pass it by.