Directed by: Joseph Kahn
MPAA Rating: R
Detention is a genre defying film about a group of teens at Grizzly Lake High who while engaging in classes, finding prom dates, and more, also have to fight off a killer. Oh and there’s time travel. And a lot more. This is an incredibly hard movie to sum up.
I’d actually heard some good things about Detention (which actually isn’t a great name for it, as the actual detention part only takes place fairly late in the film and is short, Grizzly Lake would have been a better title in my opinion) but went into it mostly not knowing what to expect. I’m going to write this review walking a fine line of trying to not reveal any spoilers but also tell you what you may need to know to actually want to see it (which you will). I actually started the movie in a bad mood and within minutes I was totally hooked and laughing out loud.
Yes I said laughing. Most of Detention is a very dark and weird twisted comedy. It throws horror scenes into this brightly lit, sunny comedy world at random intervals, which both keeps it fresh and is really interesting. Beyond the comedy and horror there’s also body swap and time travel thrown in. If you cannot imagine this movie at all right now, that’s ok, don’t worry about it. Just sit back and enjoy. All this genre twisting is done incredibly well by the cast, director Joseph Kahn, and the script. Detention feels like an odd mix of a teen comedy, Scott Pilgrim vs The World and Donnie Darko with a slasher thrown in for good measure. That’s honestly the best way I can describe it as I was constantly reminded specifically of those two movies throughout.
Detention is super stylistic with lots of onscreen graphics and some well done effects. It really grabs you from the very first scene, which sets the tone of the rest of the film pretty well and features a pretty great performance by Alison Woods. The leads are all terrific as well. You could tell they got the tone right and all do a spectacular job pulling off what could be a tricky thing to do. You have Riley (Shanley Caswell), a depressed girl pining after Clapton (Hutcherson; The Hunger Games, Cirque du Freak) who is the popular but likeable boy who has just started dating cheerleader Ione (Spencer Locke) who makes non-stop 90′s references, and then there’s Clapton’s friend Sander (Aaron David Johnson). All of these cast members do their characters justice and do just an incredible job. The standouts are Locke, who just kills some great comedic stuff and Caswell who is the lead and has a lot of the film on her shoulders.
Another thing that is just so right is the use of music. Detention uses music to evoke specific time periods with perfection. There’s one great sequence set in the detention room where we go back from modern day to 1994, stopping every few years with changing music to evoke that year and it is so well done using pop songs incredibly well. It’s also just a great sequence period.
Overall this is an extremely quirky movie and I could see people just not getting it. But those people are missing out on a great experience. If you want to laugh and just see a really solidly made film then you need to see Detention as soon as possible. It’s out on DVD & Blu-ray July 31st.