Detention of the Dead (2013)
Directed by: Alex Craig Mann
Written by: Alex Craig Mann, Rob Rinow
Starring: Alexa Nikolas, Christa B. Allen, Jacob Zachar, Jayson Blair, Joseph Porter, Juston Chon, Max Adler
Detention of the Dead (2013)
(15) Running time: 90 minutes
Director: Alex Craig Mann
Writers: Alex Craig Mann, Rob Rinow
Cast: Jacob Zachar, Alexa Nikolas, Christa B. Allen, Jayson Blair, Justin Chon, Max Adler, Joseph Porter
Reviewed by: Matt Wavish
Detention of the Dead is the sort of zombie comedy I would imagine has plenty of appeal to the younger horror crowd, but the more initiated of us will probably find the whole thing rather tedious and silly. I rarely laughed at the bits I was supposed to laugh at, and mostly laughed probably when I shouldn’t have, and the so-called gore is so painfully safe it barely registers. However, the film does have its perks.
A group of students are all spending time in detention when zombies rampage the school, turning everyone but those ‘trapped’ in detention into zombies. The group we follow are made up of all the usual clichéd and annoying characters which make films like this feel so tired, and lacking any ideas. We get the hot cheerleader, the tough sports dude, the Chinese stoner, the geek and a Goth, all played by popular faces within the teen crowd. Some you may recognize, however showing my age, I did not really recognise any of them (although the cheerleader certainly caught my eye!). The group bicker, the geek is bullied then (hilariously) becomes the ultimate zombie fighting machine, a romance blossoms, as does a green eyed monster, all while the zombies shuffle around the school, supposedly being scary.
The film aint scary, but thankfully never tries to be, it simply uses zombies as a basis of a high school comedy merged with playful horror. Some of it actually works (when the Geek becomes a zombie killer, when the cheerleader attempts mouth to mouth with an undead), while much of it seriously sucks (a ridiculous moment involving a guys amputated leg used as a weapon, the awful and constant slo-mo shots), and the battle for survival never really feels anything but staged nonsense. The zombies are not convincing, and I swear I could see some of the ‘actors’ chuckling while shuffling around, and as I said before the gore never really pushes any boundaries that a ten year old couldn’t handle. There are also far too many bright colours here for my liking, making the whole set up incredibly cartoonish.
There have been many comments on the script being hip and cool and down with the cool kids, but again I must be showing my age because it I didn’t find the script anything more than mediocre. Granted some jokes are very well written, and some of the gags turn out probably better than planned, but there is certainly no classic writing skills going in here. Maybe I am out of touch, I don’t know, but while parts were very funny, other parts came across as dire and desperate. I found myself laughing at simply how stupid the film was, and not much else. I mean, a scene where the stoner guy uses a guillotine to chop off his teachers head may have been funny, but slicing close to fifty times before the head flies onto the screen (from an impossible direction) is not my idea of funny, it is plain dumb. However, that is the charm of this film.
If you can look past the fact the film might be trying to be cool, and just accept it as silly nonsense, then you just might laugh (like I did) at all the wrong places, and enjoy it. For the men, the cheerleader will certainly keep your interest levels high, and even if you hate the film, she will give you reason to keep watching! The fact it is so cringe worthy and silly it becomes laughable is also a good reason to keep watching, for this can easily be deemed as a guilty pleasure. The cast look far too old to be students anyway gives the proceedings an added level of ridiculousness (the geek could easily pass as a teacher!), and like it or not, the film is just too damn goofy to be able to actually hate.
It is clear this stupid film was aimed at people probably half my age, and I am probably the wrong person to be reviewing it, but oddly Detention of the Dead is actually a lot of fun. Totally stupid, totally rubbish, but strangely totally enjoyable in equal measure. I cannot, and will not recommend this, but I will admit to enjoying it just a little bit!