“I can only recommend it [Detention] to someone who likes their films filled with dark satire, frenetic pacing and an odd reverence of the pop culture of the 1990’s.”
Horror and Comedy
Starring - Shanley Caswell/Riley Jones, Josh Hutcherson/Clapton Davis, Spencer Locke/ Ione Foster, Aaron David Johnson/Sander Sanderson, Dane Cook/Principal Verge, Walter Perez/Elliot Fink, Erica Shaffer/Sloan, Parker Bagley/Billy Nolan, Alison Woods/Taylor Fisher and James Black/Mr. Cooper
Director - Joseph Kahn
Writer(s) - Joseph Kahn, Mark Palermo and Mark Palmero
Rated R for bloody violence, crude and sexual content, nudity, language, some teen drinking and drug use.
Runtime - 93 min.
Detention is a film that is nearly impossible to describe. It uses the tropes of so many different film genres, that watching it is an almost exhausting experience. However, it is the type of film that if you open your mind to it and allow yourself to adapt to its crazed visual style, I think you’ll find yourself enjoying the wild ride that Detention sends you on.
The story is told from the viewpoint of Riley Jones, the self-described “second biggest loser to walk Grizzly Hills High.” Besides being extremely accident prone, Riley’s biggest problem stems from her crush on Clapton Davis, a slacker hipster liked by virtually everyone, who is dating her former best friend and cheerleader Ione Foster. Riley’s life is further complicated by Sander Sanderson, a friend who continually attempts to have sex with Riley, and Billy Nolan, the school jock and ex-boyfriend of Ione, who is still in love with Ione and keeps trying to beat up Clapton to win Ione back. All this is fairly typical high-school drama. The difference between Detention other films of the ilk are quickly discovered.
Right at the outset of Detention, the most popular girl in school, Taylor Fisher, is killed by someone dressed as Cinderhella, the serial killer from a fictional horror film. Cinderhella begins stalking Riley, but through a series of bazar accidents, Riley survives every attempt on her life. Ione wants to win a dance contest, so she switches bodies with her Mom, who won the same school contest in 1994 and Ione finds herself transported back to that year. We discover the source of Billy Nolan’s testosterone anger and strength is from being part fly, which occurred when he discovered an alien meteorite as a child. This is only some of the weird and strange people and things that you will see in Detention.
Directed by Joseph Kahn, whose only previous feature film was 2004’s Torque; a visually frenetic, but narratively vacant motorcycle gang movie. Detention has that same visual style, but has a quirky and unique satirically humorous plot and characterization that make it a much richer and rewarding cinematic experience.
None of the young actors are particular standouts. However, Shanley Caswell instills Riley Jones with a certain sympathetic distain that makes her character’s viewpoint of the strange events in Detention feel a bit more grounded than they would with a less talented actress. Josh Hutcherson, who is now better known as Peeta Mellark from The Hunger Games, shows a real knack for playing the slacker Clapton Davis with just enough panache to make him likeable even in his worst moments. Dane Cook has many detractors for reasons I’ve never been sure of, but his role as Principal Verge is the most interesting of the few adult roles in Detention.
Because Detention is such an unusual film, I can only recommend it to someone who likes their films filled with dark satire, frenetic pacing and an odd reverence of the pop culture of the 1990’s – or as Taylor Fisher declares at the begining of Detention, “The 1990’s are the new 1980’s.”
TECHNICAL: Acting – 8 Directing – 9 Cinematography – 8 Script – 9 Special Effects – 8
VISCERAL: Visual – 9 Auditory – 8 Intellectual – 8 Emotional – 9 Involvement – 9
TOTAL - 85