Posted in Fantasia 2011, Fantasia International Film Festival, Film Festivals, Reviews

Fantasia 2011: Review of Detention

Detention (2011)
Director: Joseph Kahn Screenplay: Joseph Kahn, Mark Palermo
Cast: Shanley Caswell, Josh Hutcherson, Dane Cook, Jesse Heiman

This teen slasher comedy is clearly a labour of love that is stuffed to the max with pop culture references of the 90s and 00’s.  The movie has a hyper-kinetic pace with fast talking characters and frequent cuts.  There’s a lot of meta-humour and self-awareness in this movie as it mixes high school OMG drama with a murderous slasher killer and sci-fi elements of time travel and body swapping.  Pop culture addicts will have a field day with this movie.

The acting was good and I especially enjoyed the performance of the main actress (Shanley Caswell).  Dumbfoundead has a rather minor role so there’s not much to say about him.  Given that the director financed most of the movie himself for around 2.5 Million, the movie looks amazing with a great sense of visual style.  One memorable sequence was a rotating shot of the characters sporting all the different clothing styles by year from 2011 to the 90s along with the accompanying hit song of that year.  I was impressed with this movie on a technical and creative level and am somewhat surprised no Hollywood studios wanted to produce this movie.  It definitely has a certain commercial appeal and I easily forsee Detention garnering a cult audience.

Unfortunately I can’t include myself in this audience.  There were a fair number of funny moments but a lot of moments also fell flat for me with some attempts at humour feeling too forced.  I think I probably would’ve appreciated more of the jokes if I had been familiar with the original works that were parodied.  Because the pacing and dialogue are so fast at times, I had a hard time keeping up with not only the references but just the plot in general especially when the time traveling stuff kicked in which totally lost me.

The Q&A session with Joseph Kahn was informative.  He talked about how casting agencies strongly discouraged actors from being in his movie since he wasn’t considered a real director and wouldn’t be paying them much.  In response to an audience question he also described how he managed to convince Dane Cook to return to the movie after dropping out days before shooting due to agency pressure.  Kahn comes off as a very honest and funny guy.  I hope he manages to at least make back all the money he invested into this movie.

Below is a decidedly crappy photo I took of the director, co-writer and a couple of cast members after the movie.

And here’s the interview with the Fantasia festival organizers

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Author:

Longtime fan of East Asian films. Former "movie reporter" on the music radio show / podcast "Beats From The East" broadcasted on Concordia University's CJLO 1690AM radio station in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

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