Stuck at the 11:30pm Sunday night spot, Joseph Kahn’s Detention promised a blend of John Hughes, mixed with a tiny bit of Back to the Future, and just a dash of Scream served in a ice cold glass shaken not stirred, but would this mix be too potent for my taste buds or would it have the sweet taste of success?
When the same masked villain that murdered queen of the school Taylor Fischer begins hunting outcast Riley Jones (Shanley Caswell) it’s just another issue on a long list that a girl at Grizzy Lake High School needs to deal with. After boys, social hierarchy and the looming Prom. She must team up with the coolest guy in school Clapton Davis (Josh Hutcherson) and his girlfriend Ione (Spencer Locke) to try and solve the mystery of who’s killing the kids at Grizzly Lake. It has time travel, bears and a Canadian Eminem lookalike plus it’s filled with enough meta references that it’s sure to make Kevin Williamson quake in his boots.
To say I enjoyed Detention would be an understatement; the film was the surprise of the festival for me. Lagging after 3 days of constant movie watching I was starting to slouch back in my seat about to let tiredness take over, but then an opening scene with forth wall breaking, pop culture references, on screen flying graphics and some pretty nice gore woke me the hell back up.
There is a unique energy to this film, like an ADHD child bored in class who can never let his mind rest. The camera’s always moving, someone’s always talking, it’s constant and it’s in your face. The script is quick, witty, smart and knows its audience so well that it’s a tad scary. Normally I would want a movie such as this to take a breather or at least let your eyes have a break for a few minutes but with this film that feeling never came, it was 0-100mph from the start and stayed there for the entire runtime. Joseph Kahn and Mark Palermo have obviously made a film full of passion, and wrote a script that would showcase the camerawork Kahn has perfected over the years as a music video and commercial director. Unlike other music video directors who have struggled with the style changes to feature films, it’s noticeable that Kahn is in his comfort zone with this hyper slick style. It feels like the work of a very confident director.
How it take’s apart and understands the culture of today is staggering, in a generation of IM’s, BBM’s, text messaging, facebook, twitter etc etc the way we translate information and communicate is quicker now than it ever has been and this film puts it up on screen for all to see and uses it effectively. In a way it’s a new generation of cinema that lives in the now, celebrates the youth of today, and doesn’t apologise if you can’t keep up, which in my opinion is pretty damn refreshing.
The cast made mostly up of no name actors were uniformly fantastic, the lead Riley played by the excellent Shanley Caswell is in equal measure cute and witty but with a tongue as sharp as razor that can befuddle anyone. The inclusion of Hutcherson on the other hand is excellent for two reasons. One, he’s great in the movie. Two, he’s blowing up right now and becoming the hot new actor of the day which means that this film will get to be seen by a lot more people.
After Torque, it now seems Kahn has got a script that is worthy of his talent. Made from a budget funded out of his own pocket, the film looks incredible, sounds incredible and has a soundtrack to die for. It’s sure to be loved by some and irritate others but one thing you can say for sure, Detention is like nothing you’ve ever seen before and that itself is worthy of recognition.