Given how fantastic 2011’s “Detention” was, I realised that the 2010’s namesake would be unlikely to be as good. But I wasn’t fully prepared for just how rotten it would be, something that looks vaguely like a movie but doesn’t fulfil any of your normal expectations (coherent plot, believable characters, any sense of pace, fun or enjoyment).
Let’s start at the beginning, in 1976. A group of kids that look absolutely nothing like kids from 1976 are breaking into their school at night to steal something, maybe? It turns out they just want to play a “prank” on Gabriel the nerdy student by locking him in a steel cupboard – only a lightning strike from the storm outside rather implausibly sets him on fire. The pranksters run away and poor Gabriel burns to death, really quickly too.
Fast forward to the present day, and…bloody hell, if you can’t tell 90% of the plot from those first five minutes, then I’m surprised you’re clever enough to read. A group of students are given detention for all sorts of reasons, and the only tension of any kind is whether they’re there to solve the mystery of what happened in the 70s and free the restless spirit, or whether they’re the kids of the original students who left Gabriel to die, and he’s manipulated the whole thing so he can get revenge (hint: it’s option 2).
The headmaster is David Carradine, one of his astonishing 11 post-death IMDB credits. Oh, and there’s a teacher with an English accent called Miss Cipher (seriously) who knows more than she’s letting on. Played by Alexa Jago, her first ever screen appearance was in “Witchcraft 3”, so welcome back to the ISCFC, Alexa! The students feel like the first time they ever met was the first time the cameras rolled, and are a miserable group of stereotypes. Rich haughty girl; her boyfriend, and I didn’t buy them as a couple for a second; goth girl; stoner; angry jock; cute nerdy girl and cute nerdy guy.
So, they’re initially trapped in the detention room without their phones, the Coach who’s taking detention disappears (or maybe he dies, it’s all very poorly shot), the Principal dies because the producers could only afford David Carradine for a few days, and a mysterious spirit stalks the halls, possessing people, making them hallucinate, and so on. If you’ve seen any kids-trapped-in-school horror, you’ll know exactly how it works and “Detention” does not try anything original at all. They try a twist, but it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever (it relies on someone we’ve seen get possessed by an evil spirit be actually evil all along, a spirit which has already shown it can jump out of dead bodies deciding to just stay in one), although “making no sense whatsoever” at least fits in with the rest of the movie.
Now, just from reading this short recap, I bet you’ve got some questions. Like, how did all the 70s students have kids at exactly the same time, and stay in the same school area? Did the spirit manipulate reality so they could all get detention on the same day? Why did it kill a bunch of people who had nothing to do with Gabriel’s death, like a couple of middle-aged workmen (one of whom is the great “That Guy” actor John Capodice)? Who moved that one corpse so our hero could helpfully pull a sword from its chest on their way to the showdown? It’s not all unanswered questions, though. Okay, it’s mostly unanswered questions. But there’s rotten effects too – the burning scene is laughably bad, and the ghost doesn’t look much better either. Sprinkle a few of the more tedious teen horror clichés and there you go.
I don’t want to blame the kids and their acting – they have no chemistry, but that’s the job of the director. Talking of him, there’s a relationship with the director of our last review, “Hellraiser 3” – the Hickox brothers! James directed this, Anthony directed that. Think of them as like Ridley and Tony Scott, but in the sense that the Scotts are the Beatles and the Hickoxes are a Beatles cover band that get bottled off the stage in your local pub. It feels sloppy, like “will this do?” was the most common words uttered on set.
We’re reviewing every movie with this title for no reason, so hopefully we’ve got the really rotten one out of the way first. Please avoid at all costs. I’ll leave you with one cheery thought, though – from a budget of around $2 million, its box office return was…$190. So there is justice in the world!
Rating: thumbs down