Friday, October 3, 2014

Detention (USA, 2011)

Nine Things About the Movie "Detention" (USA, 2011)

1. This cult classic independent comedy-horror-science fiction film mixes “The Breakfast Club” with “Mean Girls” and gore films. It’s a postmodern, post-ironic, pop-cultural mash-up about identity and fear of the future.

2. The plot (or really, plots) about high school, serial killers, and time travel, is extremely generic and overused. And everybody knows it. So it becomes fresh again. I mean, this movie deconstructs the deconstructors.

3. It’s kind of about a group of teenagers that wrestle with prom and popularity while a masked slasher from a popular horror movie series kills them. Plus it’s about time-travel, body-switching, and aliens.

4. The movie is a whirlwind of cultural references from the past thirty years. You could make a game out of just trying to catch them all - some are pretty obscure, and require you to have lived through the 80’s and 90’s. Some references are aimed directly at the Twitter generation.

5. It was directed by Joseph Kahn, who is already known in bad-movie circles for “Torque”. But don’t worry - he actually insults “Torque” in this movie, so it’s all good.

6. The cast is fairly unknown, except for Josh Hutcherson, who went from this movie to “The Hunger Games.” Oh, and Dane Cook plays the principal, if anybody still cares about him.

7. The fact that the movie makes several direct references to one of my favorite bad movies, the Patrick Swayze classic “Road House” (including the famous line about pain), just sealed the deal.

8. The pace and editing are very fast, and you hardly have time to catch a joke or a reference before it’s on to something else. It might be a little more gory than some people were expecting, too.

9. It’s really hard to make a movie that knows it’s making a movie about generic things, and yet stay fresh and sharp. This is not “Sharknado”. A meta-meta film with cheap but charming special effects, “Detention” hits so many notes that even if a few of them are out of tune, the whole thing is a crazy-ambitious symphony that is endearingly brilliant.