The young and the plotless
, 15 Dec 2011
Detention (2010) is a sadly under-bugeted film which could have been so much more interesting and expressive with a little more editing. Poor SFX and CGI give it the feel of a cheap TV special, when the plot concept could be genuinely spooky. Never before have I wanted to teach someone that less is more (especially with Adobe AfterEffects).
A young teen is lured into a school boiler-room in order to do...something. And then he gets killed, in a freak accident, incinerated whilst being tormented by his peers. If it sounds like a new take on Nightmare on Elm Street, have no fear. It isn't even as good as that. Various tropes ensue, with a fair amount of blood and gore. However, that's another critique which the director (Hickox) should take note of - the utter lack of psychological buildup, turning an hour and ten minutes into a yawning eternity. The difficulty with the slasher genre is to have an original idea that is well-plotted, and which is pacy without being disjointed. Detention, sad to say, has none of these virtues.
The unexpected presence of David Carradine (with a terribly short cameo, and perhaps a nod to the fact that Hickox's father also worked with a Carradine in his career) doesn't actually lend the film any grace. Whilst Zelda Williams (daughter of Robin) adds to the admittedly talented cast, it has the feel of a drama club idea that got shot to super-8. There is technical efficiency in the acting, but no scream-queen moments in the action. At no point do you ever work out a decent backstory for any of the characters who get relentlessly bumped off one by one.
The worst thing within the film, though, is Alexa Jago's frustrated, dithering teacher. Whilst the may be alluringly English for the Americans, to an English audience, she's more like a slightly frumpy, middle-aged mum from the OXO ads.
If you don't mind your standards of horror being lowered to that of 'Goosebumps!' then this is certainly no waste of time for you. For a more discerning audience - and one which may have been interested by decent cover art and a fairly talented cast - the CGI/SFX are the true horror within this film.
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