The 2nd and final evening of the Toronto After Dark Film Festival – Summer Nights program took place Wednesday eve and I was there.
Well, to be clear I was there for the first one. As much as I wanted to see the second feature V/H/S I have a problem with found footage films in the theater, I tend to suffer from ‘shaky-cam’ nausea, something I forgot in The Blair Witch Prohject and then again in Cloverfield to my tummy’s extreme dislike.
At least this time I remembered, and spared myself the countless trips outside it would’ve required of me. Which is too bad, cause I really did want to see it. Perhaps it’ll show up on Netflix soon.
So for the early show, I caught Joseph Kahn’s Detention.
This film easily denies classification and if you don’t go in expecting something off the wall, you are not going to have a good time with this film. Put as simply as I can, it’s a R-Rated-horror-comedy-sci-fi-teen-drama. And we definitely had the right crowd for it Wednesday night! We clapped, cheered, and laughed repeatedly through the film.
If I was going to say it’s like this meets this…. I would say, you take all of John Hughes’ teen films, from Sixteen Candles to Weird Science, throw in a healthy dash of Back To The Future (there’s also a wicked flux capacitor reference in the film) and stir in a lot of Scream and you may have something close to what this film is.
And while the film does rely on some visual gags, almost all of it is in the dialogue, some of it is so inanely stupid that it actually comes around to verge on brilliance.
To nutshell the film as much as I can, someone, using the fictional horror movie Cinderhella character as their basis, murders the most popular girl in school Taylor Fisher (Alison Woods), who is murdered during her instructional montage sequence.
The high school is plunged into terror as they wonder which of the cool kids is next.
Riley (Shanley Caswell) they typical ‘pretty girl on the peripheral.’
Sanders (Aaron David Johnson) is the geek in love with Riley.
Clapton, however, is crushing on Ione (Spencer Locke), an old soul trapped in an insanely hot cheerleader’s body, and also because she knows the lyrics to all of Sting’s post-Police work, especially Fields of Gold.
Billy Nolan (Parker Bagley), Ione’s ex, wants to kick Clapton’s ass, who has his own weird story.
And the mystery of who is Elliot Fink (Walter Perez)?
Through all of this, there are side-tips (all introduced with hysterical chapter names) little odd characters, weird secrets, a time-travelling bear (seriously), UFOs, gruesome murders, the fighting styles of Steven Seagal and Road House’s Patrick Swayze and Prom.
The dialogue is funny, self-referential, and the audience totally bought into it, especially Gord (Travis Fleetwood), who is ruled out as the killer, because it would be inherently impossible and impolite for him to do it because he’s Canadian.
And amazingly, for a film that has story threads that stretch across time and characters, almost every single one gets seen to before the film ends, whether it’s in little throw away scenes or dialogue, it almost all gets taken care of.
It’s also one of those ones that you may want to watch at home with friends (when it gets a home release), because we, the audience, would be laughing so hard at one line, we’d miss the next two or three!
It’s funny, goofy, and a visual delight. It’s not gonna win any big awards, but it’s definitely going to garner a cult following.
I loved it!
See it with your friends, expect nothing, laugh a lot, and don’t watch the trailer, cause it doesn’t market the film very well at all.