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Film / Detention

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"Mullet beats pony-tails."

Detention is a 2011 filmnote  by Joseph Kahn, maker of the Cult "Classic" Torque. A send-up of teen horror movies and teenage life in general, it follows a group of students at Grizzly Lake High School who must come to grips with a masked killer, dressed like the villain from the horror franchise Cinderhella. When the principal (played by Dane Cook) suspects that one of them is the killer, he sends them all to Saturday detention in place of the prom.

And then things go completely crazy.

The main thrust of the film is that each of the main characters is the protagonist of a different teen movie. Riley Jones, the heroine, is a Cool Loser and Snark Knight in the mold of Daria Morgendorffer, Juno MacGuff, or Angela Chase; Clapton Davis, the male protagonist, is a Ferris Bueller-esque High School Hustler; the cheerleader Ione Foster has swapped bodies with her ex-cheerleader, stuck-in-the-'90s mother Sloan in a plot reminiscent of Freaky Friday; Sander Sanderson is the Hollywood Nerd hero who's trying to get the girl; the Jerk Jock Billy Nolan has insect-based superpowers that he possesses little control over, in the vein of Peter Parker; and finally, Elliot Fink is living in an apocalyptic time warp straight out of Donnie Darko. Together, with the help of a time-traveling bear mascot, they must come together to not only save their own asses, but the entire world — or at least, Grizzly Lake, because really, have any of these kids ever seen the world outside Grizzly Lake?


Not to be confused with three other works of the same name: another, less comedic slasher movie made in 2010, a 2003 Dolph Lundgren action film about drug runners attacking a school, and an animated series from 1999-2000.


  • Abusive Parents: Billy Nolan's father.
  • Alpha Bitch: Taylor Fisher. Fortunately, we only have to put up with her for five minutes.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Billy gets his arm hacked off by the killer.
  • Asian and Nerdy: Toshiba, who modified the school's bear mascot into a time machine.
  • Black Comedy: Only way to make casual jokes about a suicidal girl.
  • Brick Joke: Riley's Canadian debate rival Gord and the news reports about the UFO come together in the final scene.
  • Canada, Eh?: Subverted with Gord, who makes Riley wish that the stereotype of the "polite Canadian" were true. Then again, he's not a Canadian, but an evil alien.
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  • Childhood Friends: Clapton Davis and Riley Jones live across from each other and have been friends for years. Then Riley developed a crush on Clapton, and he started dating Ione/Sloan.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: After they changed the fabric of space-time, Clapton and Riley see that Ione/Sloan is now dating Toby T, and they get crowned Prom King and Queen, implying that, in this timeline, they themselves have been together a while. Then they dance.
  • Cool Loser: Riley.
  • Dance Party Ending: The prom scene with MMMBop is a straight homage to the climax of Dirty Dancing. It's not the actual ending here, though, as the killer still needs to be dealt with.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: During his high school years, Principal Verge was an outcast who was ready to blow up the school. Thanks to the Timey-Wimey Ball being tampered with, somebody created an alternate timeline where he succeeds, leading to The End of the World as We Know It (actually just the destruction of Grizzly Lake, since that's the only world these kids have ever known).
  • Dawson Casting: invoked Parodied in the Cinderhella 3 scene, where the characters in that film watch a bootleg copy of Slashing Beauty 4 (just as the characters in Detention are doing the same with a bootleg copy of Cinderhella 3). All of the "teenage" cast members in Slashing Beauty 4 are obviously middle-aged.
  • Dean Bitterman: Principal Verge.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Taylor Fisher, who is basically a more obnoxious version of Casey Becker.
  • Deus ex Machina: Extraterrestrial Ursus Ex Machina. The bear's magnetism powers end up saving the protagonists in the final confrontation.
  • Driven to Suicide: Played for laughs in Riley's case, she tries to hang herself while complaining about the debate and Clapton.
  • Fish out of Temporal Water:
    • When in Ione's body, Sloan doesn't seem to get that it's not 1992 anymore. Not only is her taste in music, movies, and fashion stuck in the early '90s, but she remarks that her and her classmates' generation experienced no great struggles or tragedies — which may be true for a Gen-Xer like Sloan who grew up in the prosperous and peaceful '90s, but certainly not for a millennial like Ione, who would've grown up through The War on Terror, Hurricane Katrina, and finally the Great Recession (which her classmates quickly point out).
    • It also happens in the other direction to Ione in Sloan's 1992 body, what with her referring to the Top 40 music of that era as retro.
  • Foreshadowing: Lots of it. Ione's definition of "stalker" pointing to Sander as the killer, the newscasts about the UFO, Riley talking about "the pervert who screwed the bear", and the trophy case at the beginning.
  • "Freaky Friday" Flip: Ione and Sloan, with some temporal shenanigans thrown in. While Sloan awakens in her daughter Ione's body in the present day, Ione wakes up in Sloan's body... in 1992, back when Sloan was a teenager.
  • Freudian Excuse: Billy burned his hand a meterorite as a kid, his dog blew up (for... some reason), his father made him wear a TV on his hand for years to hide the mutation, and he was constantly bullied by his classmates until he was a teenager and the TV came off, at which point he became a total asshole.
  • Fun with Acronyms: Taylor describes herself as having "Beauty, Intelligence, Talent, Charisma, and Hoobastank." (What? They're good.)
  • Funny Background Event:
    • While the camera is focused on Elliot and Toshiba discussing time-travel and whether the bear time machine works, past them we can see Mimi inspecting Gord's body on the door. When his bottom half gives way, her reaction is priceless.
    • Although it's eventually more obvious, most scenes with 1992!Ione have her whacking her cell phone, trying to get service.
  • Goth: Mimi, a rare example of a black goth chick.
  • Granola Girl: Riley.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: Principal Verge.
  • The Hero: Clapton Davis, a composite of every generic teen movie protagonist.
  • Hipster: Clapton stated that his music site will only make reviews of bands nobody ever heard about, and will dismiss anyone who said that they've already heard those.
  • Hot for Teacher: Riley. Turns out the teacher in question is gay, though.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Gord, with a ceiling fan.
  • Jerk Jock: Billy.
  • Lady Drunk: Sloan.
  • Meanwhile, in the Future...: The students in the present day are concerned about a bomb that's going to go off in nine minutes in 1992.
  • Mistaken for Junkie: Billy Nolan. He's not juicing, it's just his weird insect-like superpower.
  • "Mister Sandman" Sequence: Riley and Clapton's arrival in the 1992 high school, which features House of Pain's "Jump Around" and has Riley getting called a corporate sellout for her expensive overalls.
  • My Own Grampa: "Ione is pregnant with herself?"
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: When Riley and Clapton interrupt Sander's killing spree, they prevent Gord's death. Too bad Gord was an alien who was plotting to Take Over the World.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: If not for Cinderhella interrupting Riley's suicide attempt, she likely would've strangled to death on her noose right there.
  • Not What It Looks Like: Quoted word for word when Clapton walks in on Riley and Billy Nolan.
    Riley: This is the part where I say "It's not what it looks like".
    Clapton: This is the part where I say "How could you?".
  • One-Word Title:
    • The movie itself
    • The fictional movie, Cinderhella.
  • Progressive Era Montage: Done in reverse with Elliot's time warp from the present day back to 1992, with all the fashions and music that appeared in between showing up.
  • Self-Deprecation: Joseph Kahn gets in a couple of shots at himself.
    • One character says that the idea of Clapton and Ione dating "makes about as much sense as that stupid movie Torque."
    • When the characters are watching the bootleg work print of Cinderhella 3, they say that the reason that the movie sucks so bad is because they hired a music video director who needed money to cover his coke habit. Kahn's background is in directing music videos.
    • In the opening credits, his name is written in puke.
  • Shout-Out:
    • All of the main characters are based on the stock protagonists from countless teen movies and TV shows.
    • Cinderhella seems to be heavily inspired by Saw.
    • Billy Nolan's name is a reference to the delinquent boyfriend of the Alpha Bitch villain in Carrie.
    • During the costume party, Riley is dressed like Angela Chase from My So-Called Life.
  • Show Within a Show: The slasher/Torture Porn film Cinderhella. Taken to Inception levels of films-within-films with the Cinderhella 3 scene.
  • The Snark Knight: Riley.
  • Snuff Film: Principal Verge refers to the tape from the party as this, given how it caught Billy's death at the hands of Cinderhella.
    "Who taught you how to make a snuff porno? Lady Gaga?"
  • Soapbox Sadie: Riley, particularly in the debate with Gord. Her getting whooped in that debate triggers an existential crisis that ends with the former vegan eating a burger and trying to hang herself.
    • Gord himself is also one, though his views are an inversion of Riley's — he believes that not eating meat is morally wrong. That's because he's a vegetable-based alien lifeform, who is leading the invasion of Earth in order to stop vegans like Riley from eating his kin.
  • Stylistic Suck: The Cinderhella movies play out like every teen slasher/Torture Porn cliche come to life.
  • Take That!: An offhand remark that more kids have been conceived to Oasis than any other Beatles cover band.
  • Time Travel Romance: Ione and Verge.
  • Timey-Wimey Ball: Thanks to Sloan and Ione's "Freaky Friday" Flip, Elliot's time warp, and the time-traveling bear.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight:
    • The kids walk past Verge's dead body as though he wasn't even there.
    • The same thing happens to Riley, hanging from a noose in the school hallway.
  • Wardrobe Malfunction: Riley has one at the party as a result of getting felt up by Sander, causing a guy with a video camera to film her bare breast for seven seconds.
  • Wild Teen Party: Subverted. It's played as a particularly subdued affair.


Example of: