DVD Review: Detention / Cert: 15 / Director: Joseph Kahn / Screenplay: Joseph Kahn, Mark Palermo / Starring: Josh Hutcherson, Dane Cook, Spencer Lock, Brooke Haven, Shanley Caswell, Parker Bagley / Release Date: 27th August
I think it’s fair to say that music video director Joseph Kahn’s feature directing debut Torque was not a good film. Completely worthless in dramatic stakes and defying the laws of physics to a ridiculous degree, it’s hard to believe it even got released. His next film Detention, made almost completely with Kahn’s own money has many of the same stylistic tics and ADD style that ruined Torque, but amazingly it works. Having said that this is not a film for everyone, you will either go with its joyous riot of celebration or you won’t and you’ll pass out and puke.
At its core, Detention is a teenage slasher movie with a killer named ‘Cinderhella’ based on a movie within the movie in the town of Grizzly Lake. The killer starts bumping off the teenagers and we focus in on Clapton Davis (Josh Hutcherson), the kid everyone likes, his cheerleader girlfriend Lone (Spencer Locke), political vegetarian Riley (Shanley Caswell) and Clapton’s uber geek best friend Mike (Aaron Perilo) as they try and figure out who is responsible. That’s the framework, what I haven’t told you about is the jock who is part fly, a body swap subplot between a mother and daughter, a time travelling bear and multiple UFO sightings. Somehow all of this is crammed into ninety minutes and it still makes sense.
Detention feels like the kind of film that would have been made if Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World had somehow been a 600 million worldwide box office hit. Pop culture references and homages from the last thirty years of youth culture are thrown at you in a whirlwind of gags and dialogue. Literally everything that was noteworthy in film and television from the ‘80’s until now is referenced somehow, from Kriss Kross and Beverly Hills 90210 to Donnie Darko, Scream and of course Instagram. The key thing here though is that this is never hateful towards teenagers, it’s like a wonderful celebration of being a teenager and all the problems and situations that surround the strangest, most fun time in our lives. The characters talk in a combination of smart talk from Dawson’s Creek and the referencing of the crew from Spaced. It’s just so much damn fun because it’s completely unexpected and you literally never know what Kahn is going to throw at you next.
Apart from a lunatic last twenty minutes, Detention never lapses into incoherence. There is a lot of plot and information thrown at you but it never becomes torturous or a struggle. Like most things, when the time travel element becomes a focus, the film falters slightly as the manic pace seems at odds with the sudden complexities of changing the past to affect the future.
Detention is almost impossible to describe but is an experience worth having. I can guarantee you have never seen anything quite like it.
Special Features: None