... The film delves into areas that I guarantee NO ONE will see coming. It's like they took my HEATHERS and PETE AND PETE and spilled their DONNIE DARKO in it...
DETENTION revolves around a group of classmates who are all forced into. . . Well, detention, when their fellow friends and enemies begin showing up cut and carved at the hands of a masked nemesis known as Cinderhella (which also happens to be the villain from a film series each of the highschoolers enjoys). On the surface, DETENTION would appear as a straight-laced slasher coated with Diablo-Cody style writing. However, upon plunging deeper beneath the uppermost layer, one will find that the depths of such an ADD narrative aren't simply confined to the deep-end of a pool, but the uncharted nether-regions of an ocean. Really. This film is a mind-f*ck. One that's easy to like but hard to love.
At once, my biggest compliment and largest fault with DETENTION is its insanity. While I ultimately found issue with its inability to establish reason amidst such suspensions of disbelief, I nonetheless adored the spastic editing, the garishly-lit cinematography, pop-synth soundtrack, slick (albeit repetitive), name-dropping dialogue, and frenetic direction. This is a present-day film done with a true love and passion of the 90's and 80's and it shows in every detailed nook and cranny. Pushing the screen-melting style all the more is a fourth-wall destroying mentality behind it all. This picture plays by no rules and wants the audience to know it, literally. Alas, the zaniness also becomes the biggest burden for DETENTION, as the halfway point marks a certain. . . Uh, "Fly Event" that completely and utterly alters one's perception of EVERYTHING the film has done and will continue to do.
Honestly, this single moment will be the litmus test for every single person viewing DETENTION, as it doesn't simply beg for its audience to suspend disbelief, it gets down on the ground, grovels and kisses at its feet in hopes that it won't storm out of the theater in anger. This pinnacle of, "Wait, what the f*ck just happened?" is constantly amplified from this moment on as the film delves into areas that I guarantee NO ONE will see coming. It's like they took my HEATHERS and PETE AND PETE and spilled their DONNIE DARKO in it. . . I honestly can't fathom the reasoning behind many of the narrative choices as they're as out-of-nowhere and infuriating as MASS EFFECT: 3's universally ridiculed climax. Even, now, I still can't piece the logic of many a sequence together, and I find that aggravating. And yet. . . There's such a creative and outrageous personality and feeling enveloping the entire shebang that I can't help but love it. The film makes nary an effort to merge any of its narrative twists cohesively (which makes it feel all the more obnoxious), but I thoroughly appreciate the dedication of Kahn in his refusal to be held down by genre convention.
DETENTION is one hell of a messy flick with a second-half which comes so far out of left field that audiences will either love it or loathe it. It's the kind of film whose choices in storytelling can erupt a frenzy of enjoyable debate or an argument of unabashed anger and frustration. Had I known beforehand that DETENTION would play less like a horror-comedy-slasher (the actual "detention" doesn't happen until its last act) and more along the lines of 90's sitcoms like EERIE INDIANA and PETE AND PETE, I believe that I would have been far more welcoming to its ever-shifting nature; a world in which the uncanny is an expected everyday occurrence. As it is, I'm still trying to make sense of it all.
It's been two days since I witnessed it and I'm still quite conflicted. On the one hand, I find myself becoming all the more confused and upset when I try to explain to others what just dirty-danced across my eyes, yet on the other. . . The one hand clothed by a Nintendo Power Glove which grips neon sunglasses and a walkman loaded with a Harvey Danger cassette. . . I'm infatuated with it. I'm infatuated with its ambition, its personality, its characterization and its ability to rekindle my favorite decade (the 90's, of course. 2000 can suck it). . . And that right there is worth a lot to me.