High school is miserable. But it makes it a great source of dark humor and satire. From “Carrie” to “Heathers” to “Scream” to “Jennifer’s Body,” “Detention” is another parody of the teen movie comedy horror collection — where the dead body count of teenagers rises as days build up to the prom.
“Detention,” directed by Joseph Kahn, follows the misadventures of Riley Jones (Shanley Caswell), a vegetarian klutz who is pinning after Clapton Davis (Josh Hutcherson), who is dating Jones’ ex-best friend, the cheerleader Ione (Spencer Locke). After Jones and her peers witness the death of a classmate at a party, the three are subject to detention while a Cinderhella copycat serial killer is on the loose at Grizzly Lake High School.
Although the film demonstrates great production value for a low budget film, “Detention” comes off as a potpourri of different films and stereotypes: Think “Scream” meets “Juno” meets “Saw” meets “The Breakfast Club” meets “Freaky Friday” meets “Back to the Future.” Kahn and Mark Palermo’s screenplay incorporates some self-deprecating humor as they describe it as making “as much sense as that stupid movie ‘Torque.'” “Torque,” which is notorious for bombing in the box offices, was the first movie Kahn directed. Kahn and Palermo had gotten acquainted because Palermo, a former film critic, was one of the few who enjoyed “Torque.”
Whereas “Torque” was an action movie modeled after the “Fast and Furious” movies, “Detention” seems to be a clever satire, full of exaggerations, absurdities, social commentaries, and nostalgia for the ’90s. In one scene where Davis catches Jones dressed as the school mascot, a grizzly bear, grinding against Billy Nolan (Parker Bagley), the school’s misunderstood jock, in the boy’s locker room, Davis says,”Is this the part where I say how could you?” Jones responds,”Is this the part where I say it’s not what I look like?”
Told in chapter sequences, “Detention” explores what it’s like to be a teenager, when every little thing seems like a ticking time bomb to the the end of the world. Featuring serial killers, aliens, detentions and proms, Kahn’s film seems to be making a statement that Jones sums up best: “It’s not the end of the world. It’s just high school.”