Detention (2011) Review
Dir: Joseph Kahn 93 mins
Sony Pictures Worldwide
Starring – Alison Woods, Shanley Caswell, Josh Hutcherson, Spencer Locke.
Every once in a while, a movie is released that make me feel really, really fucking old – like ‘High School Musical’, for example, or pretty much any 3D concert extravaganza.
‘Detention’, a sharp, brash, very loud, and very teenage slasher/black comedy, littered with pop culture references, that features a rather nostalgic nod to the nineties, should therefore make me feel about a hundred years old, but somewhat shockingly, it doesn’t.
In fact, it makes me feel like someone who would buy a ticket to ‘1D3D’ – it’s not actually called that, but it should be – and dance in the aisles, while screaming about how much I want to marry Harry Styles.
2012 was a weird year for horror. There were so many remakes, reboots, and just plain half-assed horror features that the films that really stuck with me – Ben Wheatley’s excellent ‘Kill List’ was one of them – weren’t even widely considered to be genre pieces.
‘Detention’, then, was a wonderful surprise, because for the first time in forever, prior to watching it, I knew absolutely nothing. I had no expectations, and in a lot of ways, that may have been why I enjoyed it so damn much. Make no mistake, this will not be to everyone’s tastes, but it’s so much fun, and so blatant in its execution, that it’s kind of impossible to resist.
To put into perspective just how crazy this world is, Dane Cook is the school Principal. There’s also a time-travelling bear, a copycat killer based on a popular slasher film, known as Cinderhella, and, at one point, the main chick hangs herself in the school hallway, without anybody noticing or caring.
It’s all really good fun, very bizarre and incredibly funny, but the quick splatters of gore ensure it’s not just ‘Mean Girls’ with a murder thrown in here and there, to give it some semblance of an edge. The plot is so demented, the world so colourfully drawn, that it’s difficult not to get swept up in all the fun.
The identity of the killer should really be less obvious, but with ‘Detention’, unlike most other slashers, the destination isn’t terribly important, it’s all about the crazy journey to get there.
This isn’t the typical fare, by any stretch of its rather wild imagination, nor is it simply a high school drama/rom-com/teen comedy – believe it or not, it’s a strangely effective amalgamation of all those things.
Thankfully, the cast of young up-and-comers – including ‘The Hunger Games’ Josh Hutcherson in full obnoxious, yet loveable, hipster mode – are more than game for a laugh, exhibiting some genuine raw talent that wouldn’t be quite so obvious were this a more mainstream film.
In true slasher form, the gore is quick, bloody and visceral, the screams loud, and the jokes hard and fast, to throw us off base when we’re getting too comfortable. The tone is decidedly offbeat throughout, but it fits perfectly with the ludicrous narrative, as does the booming bass of its ADD score.
The loud, bright colours accentuate that this is a world populated almost exclusively by teenagers, along with some pretty useless adults, but the blood only looks redder as a result, making even the brightest hits darker.
‘Detention’ could almost be considered this generation’s ‘Scream’, given its black humour, self-referential nods to popular culture, and colourful cast of likeable teen protagonists, but in spite of some decent jump scares, it isn’t terribly frightening.
Having said that, it’s still a lot of fun, and there are some dread-inducing moments, along with some cool chase scenes, and suitably splatter-tastic gore. It’s not life-changing, but if this is the current state of slasher movies, then we’re in for a seriously wild ride.
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