Something is wrong at Grizzly Lake High School. Slasher movie icon Cinderhella has apparently come to life, slicing and dicing the Senior Class, her sights now set on loser/loner/outsider Riley Jones (Shanley Caswell) much to the disbelief of the police, former best friend Ione (Spencer Locke) and popular, music obsessed too-cool-for-school fellow student Clapton Davis (Josh Hutcherson). Principal Verge (Dane Cook) is over all this dismemberment, death, cynicism and self-referential one-liners, and he’s putting all those he thinks might be involved in Saturday detention, even if doing so might unintentionally bring about the end of the world.
- Synopsis reprinted from my April 2012 Theatrical Review
Here’s what I originally wrote about this film:
“I saw Detention last Summer during the 2011 Seattle International Film Festival. Joseph Kahn’s second film after the hilariously awful Torque, a movie he happily owns for the terrifically terrible monstrosity it is, this genre-busting effort is so all over the place trying to make heads or tails of it is an absurdist impossibility. It breaks the mold and burns the roadmap, fearlessly pushing boundaries and going into nonsensical corners most films and filmmakers wouldn’t even dare of traipsing through.
Not that this is necessarily a good thing. The movie, written by Kahn and Mark Palermo, doesn’t even attempt to make a lick of sense, bending conventions and expectation so willy-nilly one almost wonders if they were making things up as they went along. This isn’t just some 1970’s or early ‘80s Roger Corman-like hodgepodge of genre riffs (and rip-offs), it is instead its own distinctly original animal that takes the Scream concept and the Joss Whedon anachronistic esthetics of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Angel” and turns them on their head.
But as laudable as that tract is it isn’t entirely successful. The story seriously makes no sense at all, and by the time the body-switching and the time travel and the apocalyptic end-of-the-world ravings of an 18-year-old lunatic start getting involved I’d be surprised if half of the audience hadn’t already tuned out. It all feels like a series of loosely linked vignettes that on the surface appear like they’d be most at home as content on “Funny or Die” than they would anywhere else, and trying to take any of this seriously is an impossibility right from the start.
As for the other half of the audience, the ones keeping track of Kahn and Palermo’s whip-smart dialogue, the lines delivered at a fevered pitch by Caswell, Hutcherson (who also holds a producing credit), Locke and all the rest, there’s a lot to feel blood-drenched irreverently malevolent kinship with. There are plenty of inspired sequences, not the least of which is the opening death of a popular High School hottie and a montage chronicling the time-traveling body-switching of a mother obsessed with her 1992 heyday and a daughter terrified to enter a dance competition.
It makes sense that the movie has spent about a year in distribution limbo. I get why it took so long for a studio to take a chance on throwing it out into the marketplace before shipping it off to DVD and Blu-ray were it will undoubtedly find a bit more life (and viewers). At the same time, it’s nice to watch a gutsy independent bit of genre acrobatics that boldly dives into a pool of unknown depth seemingly uncaring whether or not it will survive. Detention is far from perfect, and as far as horror deconstructions go this week’s The Cabin in the Woods is a far more successful effort. But Kahn’s sophomore effort has guts and it cheekily goes for gory glory, both traits ones I do not take from granted and ones I think audiences open to that sort of thing will eagerly wish to explore.”
So, it isn’t like Detention is a good movie, per se, and, like I mention in the review, it’s hard not to compare it in at least some fashion to the far superior Drew Goddard/Joss Whedon horror mash-up The Cabin in the Woods. All the same, Joseph Kahn’s movie holds up remarkably well the second (or third) time around, and I have to admit long portions make me giggle like an unintelligible school girl.
Is that a recommendation? Sure, for some at least. Those whom it would not be already know who they are, and more than likely I seriously doubt they’re reading this review in the first place.
Detention is presented on a dual-layer 50GB Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video with a 2.40:1/1080p transfer.
Detention comes to Blu-ray in English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 as well as German and French Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks and includes optional English SDH, French, German, Arabic and Turkish subtitles.
Extras here include:
· Cheat Mode: The Unbelievably Mind Melting Making of Detention
· Fight Rehearsal (2:18)
· Riffing with Dane (4:19)
· Screen Tests (8:03)
The obvious standout here is “Cheat Mode,” a PiP track that covers the film from a variety of aspects featuring a large portion of the cast and crew. It’s fun, and extremely helpful if you want to attempt to catalog all of the numerous references to prior entertainments director Joseph Kahn is tossing in with utter, seemingly wide-eyed abandon.
As for the rest, there’s not a lot to say. The Dane Cook adlibs are okay if not essential, and the brief short on the anatomy of a fight scene isn’t particularly interesting. Only the screen tests have any sort of lasting impact mainly because they more or less feature Shanley Caswell, a very talented young actress I hope we get to see more of.
You know who you are if you’re interested in Detention. Nothing I say, positive or negative, will deter you from giving the film a look.