‘Detention’ a Crash Course in Film for Young Cast14 Jun, 2012 By: Ashley Ratcliff
Director Joseph Kahn said he set out to make a high school movie that’s relevant to today’s youth, while also challenging them enough to keep them from playing with their phones while watching the film.
With elements of horror, sci-fi and comedy, mixed with time travel, mutation and body swapping, Detention is most likely to succeed in keeping the viewer’s focus.
“This was like Inception came to life and beat the s*** out of you,” joked comedian-actor Dane Cook, who stars as the pensive Principal Verge. “… If a pinball machine came to life and hung out with you for a day but at the end of that day beat your ass and robbed you, that’s what this movie is. It’s whiplash.”
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment July 31 releases the film on Blu-ray ($30.99) and DVD ($26.99), with feature-length featurette “Cheat Mode: The Unbelievably Mind Melting Making of Detention,” featurettes about the fight rehearsals and joking with Cook, and screen tests.
Detention centers on the town of Grizzly Lake, where local students and best pals Clapton Davis (Josh Hutcherson) and Riley Jones (Shanley Caswell) are trying to survive their senior year. But when merciless slasher-film murderer Cinderhella comes to life and starts killing off students, the duo — with the help of fellow classmates stuck in detention — race against the clock to thwart their attacker and save the world.
Kahn, a prominent music video director who co-wrote Detention with Mark Palermo, takes the horror genre and flips it upside down in his second motion picture. The movie contains intricate details, metaphors and references that audiences will unlock with additional viewings.
“I knew that the film was going to be watched multiple times, and that’s a lot like music videos,” said Kahn, who spent three years crafting the script. “Music videos aren’t designed to be watched once. … On the dream logic level that you'll find a little bit later on, you’ll see the parallels of [an] interesting connection that I made.
“For instance, there’s a reason why she’s called Cinderhella, because Riley [who has a broken foot] herself has one shoe through the whole thing,” he continued. “At the end, she loses her shoe and she gets her prince charming to put it back on. Riley is Cinderella. Cinderhella is both the thing that’s attacking her and the metaphor for her life.”
Among the many movies nodded to in Detention are Scream, Freaky Friday, Donny Darko, The Fly, Back to the Future and The Breakfast Club — many that are before the young cast’s time.
“I think this movie has so many references,” said Hutcherson, also a first-time executive producer of Detention. “There were some that I didn’t understand, for sure. And there were some that Joseph put in there for the one person in the world that would get it.”
Up-and-comer Caswell, who is slated to star in horror-thriller The Warren Files next year, explained why she’s drawn to the genre.
“I like the horror genre because it affects people so much,” she said. “When they leave the theater, they’re thinking about it all the time. It’s such an adrenaline rush when you’re there. It just freaks you out, and when you go home it’s still freaking you out.”
Cook, considered a veteran by his young co-stars, said he relished the opportunity to work with fresh, eager talent while playing the dark, mysterious principal.
“I like hungry people,” he said. “I like people that feel like they’re in make-or-break situations, cause I myself made a career by taking choices and making some interesting moves early on my career.”
Hutcherson, whose choice to star in box office juggernaut The Hunger Games has propelled his career, said smaller-budget films mean just as much to him.
“The most important thing to have a long career as an actor is diversity and being able to play different types of characters in different types of movies,” he said. “I want to keep acting all my life. So in order to do that, I think it’s important to go into the bigger tentpole box-office movies and also do more character kinds of roles.”