Having just blogged about Don’t Go to the Reunion and its noticeable nod to 90s slashers, I’m not surprised that 2011’s Detention does the same. A girl at the beginning of the film even warns us that the 90s are the new 80s. I say warns us because this is more than an homage. Detention totally mocks the 20-year retro cycle overkill that pervades pop culture.
You’re going to love or hate the ADHD pacing, the rapid fire 90s references, and quirky, quick-witted humor and dialogue that would make Diablo Cody feel like an amateur. Detention is the satire of satire that Scream 4 couldn’t pull off when it tried to outdo its predecessors. Characters speak directly to the camera and communicate by writing messages directly on the screen for us to read, dialogue is communicated through texting bubbles, and the opening credits are cleverly (and sometimes grossly) delivered in various ways throughout the high school. The final girl even bickers with the police about this not being a fricking Scream movie.
The pretty recognizable cast includes Dane Cook as the principal, Shanley Caswell from The Conjuring, Josh Hutcherson from The Hunger Games movies, the red-headed geek who kissed that hot model in a commercial, Marque Richardson from True Blood, Spencer Locke (who plays “K-mart” in the Resident Evil franchise), and studly James Black who plays “prison gay” on Anger Management. Yum.
Detention is more heavily a comedy than a horror film, but the slasher elements are actually fantastic. The killer’s look is gnarly creepy and the attack sequences are amazing! Plus, the kids are obsessed with the horror film called Cinderhella—which is a satire of the Saw films. And we get to see plenty of over-the-top, gory footage from that.
Then, with only about a half-hour left in the film, the kids are assigned detention that will last as long as it takes one of them to confess to the murders. Sounds weird? Gets weirder. One of the kids has been in detention for 19 years. There’s this big grizzly bear mascot in the hall of the high school…that happens to be a time machine.
The kids realize the only way to save the world is to go back in time to the 90s and prevent the high school humiliation that triggered the killer to come back two decades later. Amazing. Oh. There’s also a “Freaky Friday” subplot. WTF? This movie is whacked. There’s even a very hot gay teacher who gets onscreen kissing time with another hot guy!
Detention most definitely breaks the mold in the horror comedy genre. It’s one you’ll watch over and over again…that is if you love it the first time.