Wednesday, October 8, 2014

October Horror Movie Challenge: Detention (2011)

Detention is a meta-horror film directed and written by Joseph Kahn. The film follows a group of teens who go to Grizzly Lake High School. When one of their classmates is killed by someone dressed as the popular horror movie character 'Cinderhella', they are all under suspicion. While attempting to work things out in detention, they discover things are much weirder then they seem.

The best way to describe Detention is that its a film that suffers from a really bad case of ADD. I guess I should explain what I mean by that. Detention's plot is unfocused and clunky. It continuously adds new ideas that reference older horror films, but jumps to the next idea before the last one has any time to settle down. Because of this, most of the ideas (like a football player who happens to have the DNA of a fly or a teenage girl who swaps bodies with her mother in 1992) clash with each other and weaken the already haphazardly constructed plot.

Although the film stumbles in the story department, it manages to catch itself with the visuals. At least, for the most part. While Detention's CGI tend to be either mediocre or dreadful, the film's cinematography is very well done. It possesses this frantic energy that perfectly fits the weird story being told, and gives the film its own style.

The performances aren't half bad either. Although the film focuses on a group of students, Shanley Caswell's Riley Jones is clearly the protagonist. Caswell does a good job with a role that could have been horrible in the hands of a less talented actress. She seems to really gel with the film's tone, has decent comedic timing, and is pretty likable. While the rest of the cast (even Dane Cook) give decent performances, I felt like spotlighting Caswell specifically. If it wasn't for her, I probably would have hated this movie.

Detention is not a great film. Its plot's jumbled, it tries to do too much at one time, and winks at itself a little too much. While its visually interesting and has some decent performances, you can safely skip Detention without losing any sleep over it.