Detention of the Dead (2012)

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I should have known. It’s got a wacky title and every bit of it screams “cheap garbage”, but the evening was progressing and it was either this or a couple of episodes of some TV show, then bed. I chose wrong.

I really don’t need to supply much plot, as the title tells you just about everything you need to know. A bunch of people in their mid to late 20s who are supposed to be in high school get caught up in the middle of a zombie epidemic…and that’s about it. It’s desperate to be like the Breakfast Club, or even that episode of Dawson’s Creek that parodied the Breakfast Club, so when they get to the library, where most of the film is set, a tedious sense of inevitability sets in.

Still, the epidemic starts quickly. By the 20 minute mark, it’s already at the stage where must low-budget zombie films take an hour to get, and for that it deserves thanks. Also, the actors they hired are mostly sort-of alright, with a prize going to Alexa Nikolas as goth Willow. There’s also the guy who was the secretly gay bully from “Glee” in there too, so it’s not as cheap as it could have been.

If you’ve seen any zombie film, chances are you’ll have seen every major beat of this one. They fight off zombies. Some of them are scary, some of them are comical. They improvise weapons. They hole up and have serious conversations. And so on. But what I wanted to talk about was the sexual politics of this film. I would bet a substantial amount that this film was written by a former high school nerd who’s never really shaken off the feeling of inadequacy that the bullying and lack of dates left him with. The star of the film is Eddie, the nerd of the crew. He’s not particularly good looking or confident, and doesn’t seem to have much going for him…but not only does he win over the head cheerleader while her boyfriend is still alive, kicking and trying to save everyone’s asses, but he also has the cute goth Willow lusting after him.

This I could just about tolerate. But it’s when Willow has to talk him into going on a date with her and he rejects her for the cheerleader not once but twice, then at the end goes “maybe Willow would be best” and she’s absolutely fine with that, that alarm bells started going off, loud. What self-respecting woman would behave like that? That Alexa Nikolas is beautiful and a cut above the rest of the cast, even saving the day at one point, just adds insult to injury. Am I just too old to appreciate this sort of film now? Or is it in fact appallingly misogynist? No, it’s definitely a terrible representation of women. If Eddie had behaved in any sort of way to get two women to go crazy for him, I’d have given him a little leeway, but this is just too much.

This was terrible. Thumbs up for starting quickly, thumbs down for pretty much everything else. From the lazy references to much better films to the way women will throw themselves at you if you’re white and alive (the Asian kid who survives almost to the end, and seems like an okay guy, gets no interest from the ladies), it’s a rotten waste of time. Avoid. Go see a film where women are more than just blank slates who want to have sex with you.

Here's some of the people to blame for this

Here’s some of the people to blame for this

Detention of the Dead on IMDB
Buy Detention Of The Dead [DVD]

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