Here we have one of the few truly interesting concepts from the Afterdark series. The setup goes that, 10 years prior to the film start, this man Perkins has kidnapped 14 children and raised them in kennels in his basement - we assume he conditioned them to essentially be his army of killers. One of the parents of the kidnapped children happens to be a police officer who comes to suspect the man in his jail cell is the kidnapper, and through a series of events, accidentally sets these 14 psycho killers loose upon the small town to wreak havoc.
As I said, the setup is very interesting. It's a shame, then, that director Craig Singer (who also helmed the abysmal DARK RIDE from the first Horror-fest) could not find an interesting story to tell with such fertile ground. It's hard to really decide where the blame should go. The film is largely shot well, and the acting is, at worst, average for a horror film. So who to blame? I would begin with the writers. The dialogue itself is not particularly bad, but it is the plotting and pacing that cause the film to suffer. The film spends exactly half of its running time getting to the point of releasing the killers - while the first half is interesting in a slowly-building tension sort of way as the cop and kidnapper engage in a "Hannibal Lector" style dialogue, it goes on entirely too long, and as such we aren't given nearly enough time to invest in the aftermath of the psychos being unleashed. A better director would have accomplished the first half of the film in about twenty minutes.
As for that second half, being rushed and probably working with a limited budget, we have to glean from radio calls that the mayhem is going on city wide, because we never really see it. These 14 psychos from the title actually amount to about 5 psychos on screen, and they largely only attack our main family of characters. Within about twenty minutes of the escape, the characters are already holed up inside the city jail, where the remainder of the film plays out. And at this point, the viewer has never really gained any compassion for any of these characters, who are predictably one-dimensional. You have the typical goth-daughter, the cheating wife, and a doofus of a father, none of which elicit the slightest bit of sympathy.
Now, when I say doofus, I mean it! This father/cop is a terrible character for a protagonist, who makes some of the dumbest choices in the history of horror. He relentlessly puts others in danger for no good reason. Early on, he sends an off-duty officer to check out the kidnappers house with NO BACK-UP. Later, he leaves a civilian in the back seat of his police cruiser, which he just got finished telling the audience can ONLY be opened from the outside! Not long after, he allows another civilian to go to the bathroom all alone when the psychos have invaded the jail. Near the end, he actually sends his wife to go fetch the keys on the other side of the psycho-filled jail while he remains in the locked room with the shotgun. And in the most incomprehensible move of all time, actually locks his daughter in a jail cell and in the next scene literally hands the keys to one of the psychos!!
But he's not the only doofus - other characters repeatedly stand by and watch friends and loved ones being attacked and devoured without even attempting to help - including a police officer who simply stands dumbfounded, shining his flashlight at one of the bloody murders happening just three feet away from him!! One character even allows a psycho to slowly approach her, strip her of the shotgun she was holding, and blow her away with it. Why she didn't fire on him the moment he entered the room . . . .?
It's this kind of idiocy on the part of the characters that thoroughly sink the second half of the film. What could have been an effectively intense final act along the lines of a film like 30 DAYS OF NIGHT, instead falls into just one excuse after another to showcase an extreme amount of gore. The filmmakers seem only to revel in trying to gross out the audience (including one groaningly poor effect of a psycho crawling away from his severed legs - you can clearly see the board the actor is laying on being dragged away from the prosthetic legs).
Seeing as how this film did not get a wide release, I would be interested to see a more talented director and cast pick it up. The idea of conditioned killers, one of which is the son of the protagonist, could make for a very interesting psychological thriller. But PERKINS 14 is not that film - avoid at all costs!