Josh Hutcherson, Dane Cook and Spencer Locke star in Detention, a hipster, teen horror-comedy where the local students of Grizzly Lake must survive their final year of high school. Standing in their way is Cinderhella, a slasher-movie killer who has seemingly come to life and is preying on the school’s student body. As the clock ticks and the bodies pile up, the likely suspects are embroiled in a race against time to stop Cinderhella and ultimately save the world… if only they can get out of detention.
Though marketed as a horror film, Joseph Kahn's Detention
actually belongs to no particular genre, as its hyperkinetic structure borrows from a wide variety of styles, tropes, and influences in telling a story that appears to be about the confusion and chaos inherent to high school life. Shanley Caswell is Kahn's nominal heroine, a terminal outsider whose crush on the popular Josh Hutcherson (The Hunger Games
) is blocked by former best friend Spencer Locke. Their triangle is complicated by the presence of a stranger tricked out like Cinderhella, the villain from a popular series of violent slasher pictures. The murders that follow in his wake eventually become part of a larger, weirder canvas that includes aliens, time travel, genetic mutations, and a dizzying array of '90s-era pop culture references. Veteran music video director Kahn, who also helmed the genre-bending 2004 action pic Torque
, will undoubtedly polarize audiences with his approach, which takes meta-storytelling à la Scream
to unheard-of levels while pitching the action and dialogue at a vertiginous speed. The picture's self-reflexive nature and ADHD pacing does, at times, approximate the bewildering barrage of information slung at high school-age culture consumers, and at times, the absurdity of the subplots, especially the complicated time travel/body-switch storyline, plays like a broad parody of the surrealism inherent to teenaged social interaction. Whether that adds up to an entertaining movie experience will vary from viewer to viewer, but one can't fault Kahn for not trying to provide a unique experience. The DVD offers an all-in-one commentary track and behind-the-scenes featurette in Cheat Mode
, a full-length, picture-in-picture discussion of the film featuring members of the cast and crew. --Paul Gaita