Josh Hutcherson, Dane Cook and Spencer Locke star in Detention, a hipster, teen horror-comedy where the local students of Grizzly Lake must survive their final year of high school. Standing in their way is Cinderhella, a slasher-movie killer who has seemingly come to life and is preying on the school's student body. As the clock ticks and the bodies pile up, the likely suspects are embroiled in a race against time to stop Cinderhella and ultimately save the word... if only they can get out of detention.
In the town of Grizzly Lake, the teens are turning up dead at the hands of a copy-cat killer, who is emulating the villain character from the hugely popular "Cinderhella" films Among the students put on alert are the quirky cheerleader, Ione, the sporty "boy-next-door" type, Clapton, and suicidal vegan, Riley. After an incident at a house party, all three of these teens, unwillingly find themselves in Saturday detention, which is administered by Principal Verge. With not much to do but bicker amongst one another, the group begin to throw ideas around involving the "Cinderhella Killer", and it isn't long before the search for the killer's identity is narrowed down to one individual. But finding the culprit won't be easy, as it might take the act of traveling back in time(via a time machine built into the school's Grizzly bear mascot) to catch them.
From TORQUE/music video director, Joseph Kahn comes the dark comedy slasher film DETENTION. First of all, you should know that this film could be categorized as many things, as a lot goes on within it's 90 plus minutes. Initially, it's a self-aware, cultural referencing , satire Slasher film, with a cool gimmicky killer, but then it's not long before it also dabbles in time travel, bombs, and even body swapping. It's complex, which is something that you don't see too often in Slasher movies, period, let alone, modern ones. But sometimes a film can be too complicated for its own good. Unfortunately, that is what I feel is the case with DETENTION. I'll be honest, I have to say that in the beginning, I was absolutely loving this film. Coming from a regular music video Director in Kahn(whose work ranges from Britney Spears to Avenged Sevenfold), the film looks as such, it's slick, and well thought out, and also nicely edited. appearance-wise, it is top notch. I also loved the '80s and '90s references through out, involving things such as clothes, music, movies and Television. Yes, in its first stages, DETENTION is a fun blend of lets say, THE BREAKFAST CLUB and JAWBREAKER, crossed with the Slasher stylings of SCREAM. It was mindless fun to say the least, but then it just had to go and jeopardize the fun, by getting all brainy on us, when it really needn't be.
Things begin to get really confusing when DETENTION all of the sudden, and inexplicably from out of nowhere, begins to throw in a few off-the-wall sub-plots, that do not make sense, nor really add to what's taking place in the film, that for the most part, throw the rest of it off. The film begins to take a strange turn when the film introduces a back story for football star, Billy Nolan. The back story goes on to tell us about the time when Billy was somehow infected by a fly during his childhood, thus, cursing him with fly-like tendencies for life(this is revealed during a football game, in which Billy has goop-filled, sticky hands, and is spewing an acidic substance). While, I know that this was probably meant as an homage to the 1986 version of THE FLY, it's just weird, and out of places, and most of all has no tie-ins with the film whatsoever. It seems to have been the product of a gag idea thought up at the very last minute, that they decided to throw in for fun. Next, there is another sub-plot, involving Cheerleader Ione, who along with her mom, decided to switch places ala FREAKY FRIDAY. So as we find out in the middle of the film, the "Ione", that we thought we knew, is actually her mother, in Ione's body, in the present. The real Ione is living back in 1992, which our characters find out as they time travel back to that year, later in the film. Truly, this sub-plot is confusing for me, even still, now having finished the film, and it looks to have confused the filmmakers themselves, who seem to mislabeled a picture supposedly from 1992 seen near the end of the film. Seen in this picture are 1992 prom king and Queen, Verge (who is the current Principal at Grizzly Lake), and Ione. The question is that if the Ione who is in 1992 under the name "Sloane", then shouldn't said poster, read Sloane instead of Ione? Whatever the answer is, it is just one of the many confusion things about DETENTION. And lastly, the film sees the students, who are serving Saturday detention, travel back to 1992, when they have solved the mystery surrounding the killer, and notice that they have gone back in time to end the world - by blowing up Grizzly Lake High. And if this film could not get any more confusing, it throws this out there. The art of traveling back in time, to stop a tragedy from occurring(and hopefully saving themselves in the present simultaneity), It's confusing, but after a seemingly successful trip to 1992, things do appear as though there are coming to a happy close, only to find that their mission really wasn't all that successful, as the killer still has some unfinished business. To sum it up, DETENTION is one film that doesn't seem to know what it wants to be exactly. Is it a Slasher? A comedy? or is it a time travel movie? Truly, it's all of the above, in it's own weird, yet ambitious way.
Although a quarter of it is confusing, which makes the film seem as though it is trying to do a bit too much, I must admit, that through it's messiness, I still found things to enjoy about DETENTION. There are times that the film is very witty and funny due to it's culture awareness, which in turn, often gets the film out of the usual cliched trappings, and aside from its many references, it is this kind of comedy, that makes DETENTION often feel like an 80's movie. Also, like a movie of the '80s, I liked that the characters were all diverse. Here we have characters like the cheerleader, the charming cute guy, the techie, and last but not least, an unlikely heroine in the suicidal vegan. It's quite the mix, and they are much fun to watch. Perhaps an additional reason as to way I still find something to enjoy DETENTION, is in fact the very thing that I fault it for. Although it is rather messy and confusing, I kind of respect the film for being so "out there", and for being ambitious enough, as to try to combine the different sub-plots, especially as a film that was shot on a low budget. For it's budget, DETENTION is a film that accomplishes a lot, in terms of its plot, and as well as it's special effects, which are surprisingly great looking.
We've mentioned the film's appearance and special effects, but when speaking of the film's acting, the film's three primary leads, Shanley Caswell, Josh Hutcherson, and Spencer Locke. Caswell Is great as the suicidal, geek vegan, who essentially transforms into a hero as the film progresses. Hutcherson, who has recently become more of a star, due to his involvement with THE HUNGER GAMES, here, shows natural good boy" charm, while, Locke, who is more or less portraying two character personalities, is cute, witty, and endearing, all in one. The main cast and it's supporters(including a rather tame Dane Cook as the Principal), help make the somewhat confusing, yet enjoyable film what it is.
Overall, the film is confusing, some of it's plot content seems excessive, yet, it's a film that I found difficult to fully dislike.
6/10 The films soundtrack features a variety of pop tunes from the '80s and '90s, along with dramatic and suspenseful scoring The music is a very nice mix, and although most of the songs featured in the film are not that old, it sure does remind us, just how much music has declined since.
IMPRESSION OF THE FILM
I enjoyed Joseph Kahn's second full length feature, despite the fact that it's a little confusing and uneven. The film definitely, at least at this point holds the record for "most genera crossed by a film" There's a lot going on in DETENTION, and it is indeed difficult to follow sometimes. I know for sure that I will have to see the film again some time soon to see if I may be able to fully understand its multiple sub-plots. Yes, it is one of "those" films. So with that said, I definitely would recommend DETENTION, it's a bit strange and off-the-wall, but it's still pretty fun!
This film will be released on Blu-Ray/DVD on July 31, 2012
Special Features include
- "Detention Mode" feature
- Screen tests:
* Shanley Caswell and Yves Brigh t
* Shanley Caswell
* Shanley Caswell and Aaron David Johnson