When this film was first floated out into the universe, the names attached were Doug Bradley, Robert Englund, Gunnar Hansen, and Kane Hodder as the Four Horsemen (what I guess became the 5 Evils) and had Sid Haig in the role that went to Kane Hodder. Sprinkle in some Tony Todd, Bill Moseley, Dee Wallace...and you get the "Expendables of Horror". Had that been the outcome, it would have been, potentially, one of the best popcorn horror films ever. The eventual outcome is far less than that.
The Good - Sid Haig, Tony Todd, and Bill Moseley, while limited in screen time, are great. Haig especially gives a typically manical and hilarious couple of minutes (though his actual purpose in the plot isn't clear, more like he was randomly thrust into the film). Todd is especially creepy, though he too seems to have little to do with the story. And Moseley, while stuck with a ridiculous monologue at the conclusion, makes the best of it (and despite being a former Nazi, has no hint of a German accent?). Hodder is also fairly effective in his role, though he's not given much to work with, as most of his dialogue is poorly written. Same with most of the other genre cameos...the characters are simply not written well enough to have any real impact.
The Bad - The story and production are pretty poor. I don't want to disparage Harrison Smith's abilities as, given the developmental hell this film allegedly went through, I would imagine a fair few of the shortcomings of the film could be laid at the feet of demands for reduction in the budget and running time. Typically, with films like this, they get cut back at the 11th hour and a lot of what was put on the page get's left unfilmed. I'm hoping this is the case here as the story is pretty disjointed and there are a LOT of elements in the film that felt like there should have been a greater explanation (ie the 9 animated corpses randomly trapped in a cell, the inmate eating a dismembered corpse, a very random creature scooting across the screen when the inmates are in the bowels of the prison, and the young boy who stuffs a guard with an EMP device, to name a few). There are a ton of plot holes (how does a maximum security prison housing supernatural inmates NOT have a generator backup?) and random other bits and bobs that don't really fit together to make a coherent plot. And when our main characters need to get from an upper level to the basement to meet the 5 evils? An extremely fast zip down an elevator cable by HAND (don't worry, they wrapped it with gauze) while firing their guns randomly and apparently killing inmates? Okie dokie.
The film composition is either poor or EXTREMELY poor and makes for difficult viewing at the best of times. The lighting is dismal. During the initial prison break, you can't tell who is who and what's even happening. The digital FX are also extremely poor (at one point in the basement, the shot moves slightly but the fog on the ground doesn't!). The sets were fine, if not extremely disjointed for a state-of-the-art facility.
The two protagonists again have very little to work with but they are supremely flat in the whole proceedings and, again, have questionable plot points (they randomly shower together, presumably to put Courtney Palm's breasts on display, but share no intimacy, nor have ever done so; no judgement, it's just a weird thing to have happen). They are given a bit of a twist at the end that could perhaps explain their behaviour, but, again, there is not enough fleshing out of the characters to give us a real understanding of them.
The most egregious irritation, however, is that, when we finally reach the 5 Evils...nothing happens. Nothing. As above, Bill Moseley has a lengthy monologue about good and evil and the others chime in occasionally, I guess adding to the tenet of said speech? In the end, they perform no tasks besides looking like futuristic warriors, another thing that makes little sense.
I feel like what most horror fans would have liked to have seen was a straightforward bloodbath without a lot of the dalliances that fell short of their target. I think we would have liked to have seen the 5 Evils unleashed upon the rioting prisoners and dispatched in ways specific to their own proclivities, and ending with their being lost out in the world to continue their reigns of terror. Instead, we are left with a disappointing mish mash of plot lines, unrealised back stories, and a supremely unsatisfying conclusion. I hope Harrison Smith gets a chance to make a film on his own terms as I firmly believe this wasn't the case here. Maybe then he can give us some horror worth viewing.