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Deadly Detention (2017) Review

High school detention brings these kids up close to some real terror.

Deadly Detention is a 2017 horror/thriller film about five archetypal teens serving detention find themselves in a life or death situation.

If you’ve read the above sentence, you probably got just to the end and thought right away, hey!, it’s The Breakfast Club, though there wasn’t much murder going on in that classic John Hughes movie if I recall. While Blair HayesDeadly Detention is far removed from that film, it sure borrows a lot in the set up, purposefully so, before veering off into some standard slasher horror clichés, trying to keep balance between bloody gore and comedy.

As their high school undergoes fumigation for an opossum infestation, five teens enter a former corrections facility called Wayview Prison, which is now abandoned but offered by the state to serve the school’s needs. The kids are Barrett (Henry Zaga) the hunky hot guy, Kevin (Coy Stewart), the flamboyant Christian zealot, Taylor (Jennifer Robyn Jacobs), the quirky skateboarding chick, Lexie (Alex Frnka), the steamy troublemaker, and Jessica (Sarah Davenport), the sporty goody-two-shoes. They are joined by Principal Presley (Gillian Vigman), who is an uptight power hungry type who lays down the law, but when she appears to get attacked by an unseen force, the kids first think she’s pranking them, that is until they find her hanging from a meathook. Now they have to try and get out of the prison on their own while someone or something slowly stalks them.

From the the start, it’s a little hard to figure out why Deady Detention exists, at least initially, the film tonally all over the place in its opening half hour as it awkwardly get introductions out of the way. These are the most outwardly stereotypical student bodies in the screenwriter’s handbook to high school drama and the filmmakers make no attempt to give them any personality beyond what the rigid descriptions demand. I guess that’s the point though and as such, conflicts are pretty rudimentary. As they explore the prison, they play out their one-color traits as broadly as expected. But oddly, the film sort of grows on you as its black comedy roots take hold, and while there is a menace and some very light gore, there’s also a few sturdy comical jabs. These kids don’t exactly seem to grasp the real plight of their situation and while many in the genre are spraying blood in every direction at this point, Deadly Detention has high school barbs packing more punch than the killer. At one point two of them stop to “bump uglies” in the cafeteria while a killer is roaming the halls with a giant metal spike. Hey, might as well go out feeling good.

So there’s the rub. Deadly Detention has hardly a scare in it and its humor is a little off (“He just wanted to die hot and he looks awful”), even as that is the direction it ultimately embraces. Thankfully, the cast is up to the task and warm up to the dark comedy angle with some surprisingly energetic performances, especially Frnka and Davenport who do it right. Frnka is easily the best thing going and saves this movie more than once. It’s hampered by a dismal score however that is a nothing but a long series of electronic plucks and drips that fail at every level to generate any fear, which really might have helped in kicking this up a notch. I appreciate Deadly Detention‘s ambitions and was genuinely on board for the last thirty minutes, even its flippy ending, that might by many seem like a cop out, but which actually had me smiling. This is not a bloody teen slasher movie with vicious social commentary, but rather a light horror romp about the perceptions of what these kids look like from the outside. Sort of.

Deadly Detention (2017) Review
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