Murder was the case that they gave me
Prisons are inherently a scary place. Being surrounded by criminals and having your freedom taken away is an unspeakable horror for most people. Throw in some ghosts and you're in for some serious nightmares. Heck, throwing in a Play-Doh set into a prison would be terrifying.
Death Row follows 2 separate parties converging on the site of the infamous Isla de la Roca maximum-security prison. The first is a group of diamond thieves led by Marco (Jake Busey). The second is a group of college kids shooting a documentary on the old prison. The haunting begins as the combined groups are slowly picked off one by one. Brutal killings and spooky possessions terrorize the group and reveal the sordid past of the prison. They must find out why this is all happening, how it is connected to Marco and how they can escape the island. in one piece.
Death Row knows that it is a small-screen horror movie. More at home on the SyFy channel and used horror movie bin than the big screen, it focuses more on the fun kills than on a good script or great dialogue. And boy do they have fun with the killing. Excellent horror movie makeup and creative deaths keep the viewer thoroughly entertained. Plenty of blood and entrails for the avid gore fan. The special effects are good for a small-screen horror movie, but when the ghosts themselves appear, they look like they have a fog machine stuck under their clothes.
Jake Busey (Starship Troopers, Idenity) channeling his inner Nicholas Cage, is front and center in Death Row. Usually relegated to a supporting cast, Busey cranks his weirdness to 11. It's entertaining for the most part, but sometimes it almost too over the top. Stacy Keach (Titus, American History X) and Danny Trejo (Machete, Anchorman) are great, but its dissapointing they weren't given larger roles. The rest of the cast does a fine job with only one or two weak links. They do their best with a mediocre script. The characters fall in to the typical horror movie trap of being very stupid; always wanting to split up, going off on their own etc. I know there wouldn't be much of a story if everyone just stayed in one place and thought things through, but still, these people do some stupid things.
All this for an overdue book?!
Death Row is one of those movies that you watch when nothing else is on, but still manage to enjoy yourself. Better than the average SyFy channel movie (Ice Spiders, Sharktopus anyone?), this movie keeps the fun kills coming despite a simple script with more holes than a hunk of swiss cheese. Light on the horror, but heavy on the gore, non horror fans with strong stomachs would enjoy this as well. Death Row is a fun watch if you don't think about it too much.