Review of Detention


Movie Review: "Detention"

--Rated R
93 Minutes
Release Date: April 12, 2012
Directed by Joseph Kahn
Genre: Horror-Comedy

Every so often, a movie comes along that surprises audiences with its unique approach. When "Detention" was released, reviewers were expecting to find a movie that was a combination of "The Breakfast Club" and "Scream." What they discovered, however, was a horror-comedy that managed to hold its own without relying upon what some might have said were obvious inspirations.

The premise is simple enough. A group of high school students are serving out detention, unaware that a killer is stalking them. The dialogue is sharp and fast-paced, creating a kind of manic energy that few movies of this type ever achieve. In fact, the rapid pacing of the film might put off some audience members, but those who settle into the journey will quickly find themselves caught up in a surprisingly entertaining film.

There are moments in the movie that bring to mind "Scott Pilgrim Versus the World." Naturally, there are no direct comparisons to be made, but it could easily be seen that the same people who enjoyed "Scott Pilgrim" will find themselves having a good time with "Detention."

The premise of the movie is almost too quirky to put into words. Suffice to say there are elements of time travel, fly blood, a world-destroying bomb, and a stuffed grizzly bear. (In fact, the grizzly bear seems to suffer from the same temporal displacement that was shown in "Donnie Darko.")

The film is practically an explosion of images and witty dialogue that fly by at breakneck speed. It would not be surprising to discover this film eventually becoming a cult classic, with audiences returning again and again to catch every little detail as it flies past. Yes, there are going to be those who detest that kind of filmmaking, but many of the young audiences out there will find this is precisely the movie they've been waiting for-without even knowing that this is what they wanted.

Audiences who are looking for sophistication might be advised to look elsewhere, but this film is absolutely perfect for anyone who enjoys the random absurdism found in "Family Guy." Part of the appeal of this film is that it doesn't even attempt to be more than an entertainment vehicle. It's the cinematic equivalent of a roller coaster ride. While there might not be tons of deep subtext and glorious self-congratulatory winks to the audience, there is a delicious kind of manic absurdity that quickly draws the audience in.

It's important to understand that some of the criticism that is directed as "Detention" comes from audiences who are pre-Twitter. In other words, they have a difficult time following the incredibly hyperkinetic direction of Joseph Kahn. Kahn has created a movie that cannot help but be self aware. Some audiences might hate that, but younger audiences who have been raised on irony will delight in what takes place here.

One aspect of the film that stands apart from so many other films is the way that Kahn creates characters that are both archetypes and people. Anyone who has the slightest experience with filmmaking understands how difficult a tightrope that is to walk, yet Kahn pulls it off admirably.

Of course, it doesn't hurt that Kahn has actors such as Josh Hutcherson and Shanley Caswell. In fact, it is Caswell's performance that truly stands out in this film. A unique film such as this requires someone who is willing to go all out in order to pull off the role, and Caswell does so, seemingly without hesitation.

Does this mean the movie is perfect? Of course not-some of the performances might be a little lacking and some of the wild camera work is disconcerting, but both of those are easily overlooked when the big picture is examined. More than anything else, audiences who watch "Detention" will understand that this is a film that could only work in today's rapid-paced world of social networking, instant texting, Twittering, and Facebooking. It is a glorious sendup of every high school movie that's been made in the past 20 years, and even as it seems to be mocking them, it pays tribute to them.

In the end, in a world in which so many films seem to have been written and created by committee, "Detention" stands magnificently apart from the pack.