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Detention – 7


Director – Joseph Kahn

Cast – Shanley Caswell, Josh Hutcherson, Dane Cook, Jonathan Park, Tiffany Boone, Alison Woods, Michael Esparza, Spencer Locke, Lindsey Morgan, Aaron David Johnson, Marque Richardson, Parker Bagley, Josh Breeding, Will Wallace, Julie Dolan

Release Year – 2012

Reviewed by John of the Dead

We horror fans are always on the lookout for good flicks that go under the radar right? Well I believe that this 2012 film that debuted at SXSW back in 2011 qualifies as one of those efforts. Detention is nothing like what it appears to be – a high school slasher film that allows you to turn off your brain and enjoy the nonsense, and that is one major reason why I enjoyed it so much. Pretty much the only “hipster” horror movie I have ever seen, coming off like a horror version of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, famed music video director Joseph Kahn creates an experience that will not only engage the viewer visually and mentally, but audibly as well. Good kills, a sweet killer, a stuffed time-traveling bear, and numerous other elements make Detention one of the best horror films of 2012, and of recent time.

Shanley Caswell, Josh Hutcherson, and Dane Cook star in this 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 world…if only they can get out of detention.

This is one of the few films that had me completely immersed in it from the get-go. For starters, the film’s opening sequence is one of the coolest I have ever seen and gives the viewer a taste of the grooviness and gory kills the story is going to douse them with. As mentioned earlier, the film is like a horror version of Scott Pilgrim, with visually engaging cinematography and a storyline heavy in pop culture – although you must be familiar with popular music from the 80s, 90s, and early 2000s. The dialogue is amazing and left me surprised that this screenplay from Joseph Kahn and a co-writer was not adapted from a novel like Scott Pilgrim was, so bravo to them for giving us new and creative material in the often convoluted slasher sub-genre and even poking fun at the slasher scene on occasion. Some friends of mine have referred to this as “Scream meets Scott Pilgrim”, and I don’t think I have heard a better description of the film.

The story mostly follows Riley Jones, a somewhat-attractive loser with the hots for the most likeable guy in school, Clapton Davis. When Cinderhella sets her sights on killing Riley she is dumfounded to learn that nobody in town believes her, not even the police. As killings become more frequent it is obvious that someone is has a vendetta against the students of Grizzly Falls, except for Riley Davis, but neither body parts strewn from above onto the BBQ pit at a party nor the slaying of possibly the prettiest girl in school will keep the students from doing their thing their senior year. I enjoyed seeing this blatant ignorance of the horror around them and found the teen comedy element to be well used and very effective at making me laugh on many occasions. Each of the protagonist characters in the film came colorfully and added much diversity to the experience, from the overbearing and idiot Principal Verge (Dane Cook) to the Hipster Thief, there is plenty going on before you to keep you engaged and entertained. Thankfully the horror did not take a backseat and was very prevalent throughout the film, with an antagonist that was not the least bit as silly as she sounds in the plot summary above. There are plenty of kills to please horror fans and with everyday objects used as weapons we are brought back to the “good old days” of slashers. In order to take on Cinderhella the surviving students in detention must find a way to travel back in time to undo the events currently taking place, and that is when the film gets a bit wacky and forces you to pay close attention. I once heard someone refer to this flick as an “intelligent film masquerading as trash”, and that is exactly right. The flick bleeds fun teen slasher with lots of cheese, but it is much more than that and I once again applaud Joseph Kahn for writing a damn cool and creative story.

Director Joseph Kahn was a big reason behind my enjoyment of this piece, as he used his expertise in music videos (let’s forget his less-than-favorable 2004 film, Torque) to give us an experience unlike any other horror film of recent time. The cinematography is absolutely incredible and he employs locations that allow him to give us an experience we can relate to while also setting up good horror. His execution of every element was top-notch, from the acting performances, to the humor, to the live-action gore, and of course…Cinderhella. I enjoyed the look of the killer and found her/his? killing method very enjoyable and even comical at times. He managed to add a lot of “fun” to each element and along with an incredible soundtrack, which includes The Backstreet Boys and Hanson (rarely never used in the horror genre) made for one of the coolest and most enjoyable horror films I have seen.

Overall, Detention is an awesome horror flick that should very much please those who know what they are getting into. This is not your run-of-the-mill slasher, but a pop-culture infused experience full of writing gold. A time-traveling bear, Dane Cook as Principal, an awesome killer, and all of this coming directed by the guy who directed Backstreet’s Back? There is never a dull scene and you are guaranteed 90 minutes of fun that I suggest you become a part of.

Rating: 7/10

Additional Stills…

See, they care…

I’ve been called a “stalker” but never “not hot enough”.

Dane Cook was pretty lulzy as the school principal.

Rule #5 is the best rule.

90s fans should enjoy this movie.

Principals really look like this in real life.

This is very symbolic of how I felt about school spirit in high school.

This is very symbolic of my life.

Notice the tortoises? I noticed right away…

Does not top the D.E.N.N.I.S system.

It really happens.

Ugh…

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