certainly is not the world’s most unique film – in fact the idea of the sins
of the parents being paid off by the innocent children is pretty much a
staple of the horror genre. Still, in its own offbeat, cheesy way, the
movie isn’t all that bad as low-budget scare machines go.
no intentions of ever being anything other than a late night cable staple,
and on that level it kind of succeeds. I can’t really say that it is good
because the film has quite a few problems just as a film, but if you take it
for what it is – a b-movie shocker – it kind of works and has some
interesting twists and turns.
fact, the movie plays out like some sort of bizarre mash-up of The
Breakfast Club and A Nightmare on Elm Street.
horror films apparently inevitably do, Detention starts out in a
flashback to the early 1980s. A group of high school students have broken
into the school in the middle of the night when a mean-spirited prank ends
up going horribly awry and one student is accidentally set ablaze in the
school incinerator. (The special effects for this fire – and a few other
spooky scenes as the film goes on – are almost laughably low-tech.)
Flash forward to the present day. A bunch of kids are held for detention at
the school, thirty years to the day after the death of the kid. Suddenly,
the worst rain storm in years – since that very night, actually – knocks out
the power. Kids start seeing and hearing things out in the halls. Then
suddenly people start dying.
small world, it turns out that all the kids in detention are the children of
the pranksters in the flashback. Didn’t see that coming.
Cheesy stuff, yes. And many of the teen characters are kind of unlikely and
unlikable – despite all being spectacularly attractive.
The Breakfast Club, you have the whole cross-section of people. The
popular girl, the jock, the gangsta, the nerd, the rich girl, the hot emo
chick, and oddly what seems to be an autistic savant. Plus there is the
tough-assed coach and principal who are running the detention.
what’s the deal with that mysterious new teacher who seems abnormally
interested in the tragic story?
all standard fare and pretty hokily filmed, and yet in some dumb primal ways
it rather works in parts. The young cast is mostly not bad – with Maitland
McConnell and Billy Aaron Brown kinda standing out.
scares themselves are obviously done on the cheap, the special effects don’t
always work, but some of the suspense scenes are very tense.
can’t always seem to decide on its own supernatural ideas – for example a
character who is supposed to be a ghost is eventually fought with and
electrocuted, and it hurts and perhaps kills them like a living being, not
as a spirit would.
again, you don’t go into a B horror film expecting narrative clarity.
movie has obviously taken a while to find release – it features one of the
final performances by David (Kung Fu) Carradine, who has been dead
now for almost two years. Carradine is pretty much the only actor you are
likely to recognize here, except perhaps for Thomas Calabro as the coach and
one other regular character actor whose name I couldn’t place but I’ve
definitely seen around. He plays a school janitor who is given the
dangerous job of removing the incinerator from the basement. (An
IMDb check tells me his name is John Capodice.)
won’t change anyone’s life, but if it comes on Showtime at four in the
morning and you can’t sleep, there are worse ways to pass the time.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2011 PopEntertainment.com.
All rights reserved. Posted: June 5, 2011.