I wasn’t sure what to expect going in to watch Detention. Well, scratch that. My expectation was that I would see a cheesy teen horror movie, and that’s what it was... kind of. It was introduced as the “love child of Scott Pilgrim and Scream,” but it’s more than that. It’s the synthesis of my entire generation, as expressed through the next.
The film is littered with movie references from the 80s and 90s -- everything from Dirty Dancing, to the Breakfast Club, to the obvious Scream. And while there’s a healthy dose of tongue-in-cheek humor, the gag never becomes the point. This isn’t another “mock genre film” like Scary Movie; it is far closer to the keen critique in Scream that spawned the mock film franchise.
It’s self-aware, but it’s also fun. The plot is beyond ridiculous, but that was part of the point. (Hell, they even mock themselves: “Worst motivation, ever.”) There’s time travel, and that inevitably leads to arguments among nerds, but we spent more time trying to figure out how it would work... not just saying that it couldn’t.
Even though I’m from the MTV generation, I found that stuff happened so quickly that it was sometimes hard to keep the threads together. But, that’s my age showing. And rather than being frustrated, I find that I want to watch the movie again... perhaps a few times.. just to catch the nuances.
Yes, there are nuances.
One of my favorite scenes basically peels back the years, showing various teenage trends over the last two decades. It was somewhat jarring to see the early 90s held to such esteem (I remember it as a time of terrible haircuts and even worse fashion), but every generation looks to the past for inspiration.
This film is the perfect light-hearted slasher movie, and while it made me feel my age, I definitely plan on watching it again. (And then arguing some more about the time travel afterwards.)
DETENTION was screened at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival Summer Screenings on July 11 at the Bloor Cinema.