Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Project Terrible: Detention (2011)

Closing up this round of Project Terrible, and I guess I caused trouble in class, because teacher Al sent me to...

...yeah, that joke was lame, but it's better than this film.

Detention is a slasher flick (kind of) about a group of unlikable people who get chased and killed by another unlikable person while the audience sits there being bored. So basically a pretty standard slasher flick. You may have guessed that I don't like slasher flicks.

What makes Detention different is that it uses a lot of cute little style touches, like characters breaking the fourth wall and interacting with text that appears on the screen.

Okay, that's not quite fair. There's something else that makes Detention different, but I'll get to it later.

Can I just let my sometime Project Terrible buddy Maynard take this one? No? Dang.

Okay, let me just say this. I had to try twice to get through this thing. The first time I quit watching after the first scene. It was that annoying. The first scene is a fourth-wall-breaking lecture from a self-proclaimed...

Anyway, she lectures the viewer on being...what she is...for a while and how to be popular and all that sort of stuff. It features shots of her younger brother using the toilet and wonderful advice like...


Yeah. Anyway, it all comes to a close with the movie's killer showing up in her apartment, cutting her throat so that she's gagging on her own blood, and then chucking her out the window...which causes her to scream loud and clear the whole way down.

With a slashed throat.

Screw this movie.

Oh, look, the second part of the movie opens up in the same fashion! This time, it's a mopey girl breaking the fourth wall.

At this point I was fearing this was a more stylish version of, say, Kill the Scream Queen or Ulli Lommel's Black Dahlia. I could not put up with another rinse-and-repeat horror movie, so I had to walk away for a week or so.

Fortunately it isn't quite that.

It actually has a plot, and...

I GET IT ALREADY! You like putting words on the screen! Seriously, it's like every 30 seconds or less with this stuff! It could be funny if it were occasional, maybe, but it happens all the time and it's just irritating as all heck!

I am going to say there are points where I actually love the effect. For one thing, the opening credits are really stylish and nicely done--going around the school halls in a very freeform manner, with the camera following different students as they pick up or interact with different objects...and each object has one of the cast or crew's names on it. Clever. Less clever is the fact that one of the first ones comes from a guy totally unrealistically punching a big crack in the wall in the shape of someone's name, but the overall gimmick is sound. It's just that the film wears out its welcome with this stuff before it even reaches the opening credits!

So like I was saying, there is a plot, and...

...and it involves vomiting. Joy.

Okay, so the movie follows Riley--a depressed, suicidal vegetarian girl with an injured foot--and Clapton--a smallish skateboarder (vomiting up above) who is competing with the school bully over the affections of the school's new head cheerleader (since the previous head cheerleader, she of the acronym above, is now dead).

There are good points to this movie. The acting is actually outright good. No joke. These folks are spot on with nailing their characters, even though I hate every single character. I can't say it feels natural, because the movie just doesn't do natural, but they feel right for the roles regardless. Filming and direction are also top-notch. This is a well-made film with a lot of style.

The problem is that it has absolutely no idea what it wants to be. We've got the slasher plot. We've got Riley and Clapton's troubles that are...roughly...more like standard teen drama. We've got all the crazy text and fourth wall stuff. We've got a giant bear mascot statue that magnetically attracts objects in the hall because, apparently, someone built "organic superconduction magnets" into it.

No, really.

So what the heck is going on in this film? Well, I'll get to that in a minute...

And it has title cards. Because I love those.

Look, here's the thing. This movie could be funny, and at times it actually is quite funny (I got some giggles out of an early-film cheerleading bit that had some pretty good rapid-fire interplay between the coach, the newly-crowned head cheerleader, and Riley in a bear mascot outfit). The problem is that it's so self-aware that it seems...smug, if that makes any sense. For every time it makes the viewer laugh, there are at least three or four more that it basically seems to be laughing at its own stupid, unfunny jokes or throwing text up on the screen and saying, "Look...look how oh-so-clever I am. You couldn't possibly be this clever."

There are also the moments--increasing as the film goes on--where the movie is just being weird for the sake of weirdness, such as the aforementioned magnetic mascot statue or a scene in which Riley, a vegetarian, debates a teen who lectures her on not being sympathetic enough to animals, and explains he's more sympathetic because he only eats baby animals since they haven't lived as long.

I'll let that sink in.

Oh, and the jock has fly blood. That makes sense. He also was forced to wear a TV on his hand to cover up a burned and mutated hand when he was a kid,

Well, because the movie doesn't know that "weird" does not automatically equal "funny," mostly.

We also get the characters texting to one another while we see the floating conversations near them. This does predate Non-Stop, but the latter did it much better. Especially since the conversations actually made sense.
Midway through the film, Riley attempts suicide and then inexplicably decides, nah, she wants to live...once she's already hanging by her neck...and is attacked by the film's slasher...who she manages to fight while, I say again, she is hanging herself. Not exactly going to be an intimidating killer, here, huh?

Said killer is, by the way, based off of a movie-within-the-movie called Cinderhella II. It's basically Saw with the villain being a slighted former prom queen or some such.

At a certain point it becomes pretty pointless to discuss the plot, as it just becomes...kind of a sketch comedy thing without the laughs? Basically it devolves into presentation after presentation of character back stories (with title cards aplenty), sometimes just after we've first met them. This includes:

  • The aforementioned football player with fly blood
  • A student who has been in detention for 19 years (and apparently never aged during that time, though I don't know if the movie even means for that to be the case or not)
  • The head cheerleader having swapped minds with her mom's 1992 self to win a dance contest
  • The principal having fallen in love with said mind-swapped girl in the past when he was in high school and, having been rejected, having built a bomb which only succeeded in damaging his face
  • The stuffed bear mascot actually being a live time-traveling bear who was kidnapped by aliens
No, really.

Yup, that happened.

There's little point in discussing the film's's a mishmash of every different concept they could throw in. It starts as a slasher film parody, but then turns into some sort of convoluted mess of strange sci-fi concepts mixed in with the slasher concept and the entire world in danger and all sorts of strange things. It sounds like it should be funny, at least in a ridiculous way, and sometimes it is...but all too often it seems far, far too full of itself or intent on just throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks. It wastes a lot of time on things that don't seem to have much to do with anything, 

I don't have much more to say. This film is a mess. It's a well-produced, well-acted mess, but it's a mess. It is a slightly better mess than, say, The Starving Games, but only because it actually bothers to have a plot...of sorts...and at least tries (and fails) to tie everything together. It is catastrophically stupid, though, regardless.

Let's just say that the film gets dumber as it goes on, the ending involves yet more time travel, the villain is offed in a spectacularly silly fashion (apparently you can't let go of an axe, either that or he's made of metal), and while the acting remains surprisingly strong and there are some funny one-liners, the majority of the film's humor falls flat because it is too busy laughing at itself to even try to make sense or actually be clever.

I'm done discussing this. I hate this film. Terrible film, bad comedy, not recommended. See you next round.


  1. I agree with almost everything in this review. This movie is so fucking horrid, it's simply unbearable.

    I know people who like this movie. I don't hate this people, but... I think I'm afraid of them and of their tastes...

  2. BEST MOVIE EVER, I watch it at least once a month ! Original story, fun... A-M-A-Z-I-N-G ! No just kidding, I didn't enjoy it at all too. There is one or two "WTF" funny things in it but mostly it's shitty :-/