What a trip this film is, fueled by ’90s references and sheer craziness to deliver its most important message: “it’s just high school. It’s not the end of the world.”
It’s difficult to find a spot to even begin with this pseudo-slasher film. I say “pseudo-slasher” because there is a killer on the loose, killing teenagers with sharp objects, but that is so much less important than the relationships that the film builds. These relationships are what drive the film at its core, but even that gets muddied as the film progresses because of the sheer number of crazy things that the director tries to fit into one, 93-minute movie, including time travel.
This world that the viewer will live in for an hour and a half is not one of realism. Instead, anything goes. At one point, aliens come down, swap minds with a mother/daughter pair, and transport one back into the year 1992, where virtually every cultural reference is from (making it a joy for someone like me, who is a proud product of ’90s pop culture). Along with this, there is also a giant stuffed bear that doubles as a homemade time machine. If it sounds ridiculous, you need to actually see these things in motion.
What is most impressive about Detention, though, is that even through all these insane moments (that literally never stop, from the first frame to the last) and breaking of the fourth wall, the central message – or the “cookie” of the story, as one of my script analysis professors used to say in undergrad – remains intact, and important.
Detention is not for everybody, and will surely have just as many haters as admirers, but there is no denying how fun this film is. From the start, the viewer knows that they’re about to enter a crazy world where anything goes, and it’s refreshing to see a film take so many big chances in such a short timeframe. One of the most unique movies I’ve seen in a very long time (which is funny because it puts up a front as a typical slasher film).
Branden has been a film fan since he was young, roaming the halls of Blockbuster Video, trying to find the grossest, scariest looking VHS covers to rent and watch alone in the basement. It wasn’t until recently, though, that Branden started seeking out the classics of cinema, and began to develop his true passion for the art form. Branden approaches each film with the unique perspective of having studied the art from the inside, having both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in acting. He has been a film critic since 2010, and has previously written for Inside Pulse Movies, We Love Cult, and Diehard Gamefan. His biggest achievement as a film critic, to date, has been founding Cinefessions and turning it from a personal blog to a true film website, housing hundreds of film and television reviews, and dozens of podcasts.