Twelve Hours of Terror: Detention

Detention (2011), dir. Joseph Kahn. Sony Pictures.

The final film for the 2012 season is the new release Detention. Some critics have hailed it as the next Donnie Darko, which considering my views on that particular film, filled me with apprehension. We open with popular girl Taylor (Allison Woods) talking to the camera. In the level of comedy we can expect throughout, we are told she is well liked while she screams at her parents. She talks to the viewers, letting us believe that she is going to be the protagonist.

She is killed minutes later by someone dressed up as ‘Cinderhella’, a character from a popular series of horror films in this movie’s universe. From there we focus on misfit Riley (Shanley Caswell). She tries to killer herself, fails, and goes to school. From there we meet the rest of the cast, from the clueless principal (Dane Cook) and her peers, with nearly everyone fitting neatly into the various horror/teen comedy character tropes. We have the cool guy Clapton (Josh Hutcherson), his girlfriend, and formerly Riley’s best friend, Ione Foster (Spencer Locke), horndog Sander (Aaron David Johnson), and creepy jock Billy (Parker Bagley).

Basically, this film seems to hold the idea of structural narrative in contempt. Ideas are tossed out so quickly, it is hard to tell if the writers had honestly forgotten the plot and just stopped caring. Quirky can only carry a film so far. Take the character of Billy for example. The reason he’s so creepy and so good at sports? He’s part fly. As in, half human/half insect; yes, I just typed that. His narrative takes up a good deal of time, but the payoff? He’s murdered by Cinderhella and never mentioned again.

Time travel, aliens, vegan conspiracies, the whole film plays out like a random mash up of Adult Swim shows. only less coherent. That doesn’t explain the bear porn though, or maybe it does. If you liked Donnie Darko, you might consider this film, but otherwise stick to fare that at least offers less pretentions about itself.

“Cancel Your Future”