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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 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 heroic nerd 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 th... well, actually, six 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, an animated series from 1999-2000, an indie Taiwanese horror game, the 2019 film based on the video game and the 2020 series based on the video game.


  • Abhorrent Admirer:
    • Sander Sanderson makes unwanted advances towards Riley Jones on a regular basis. Riley's rejection of him prompts him to attempt blowing up Grizzly Lake in the past. He also attempts to murder her for this reason after he fails to detonate Grizzly Lake.
    • Ione/Sloane is initially repulsed by Verge, and has to ask him out to the prom in order to prevent him from blowing up Grizzly Lake on Sander's behalf. When she gets to know him, he turns out to be a better person than she thought.
  • Abusive Parents: Billy Nolan's father is shown in flashbacks to be an alcoholic loser who treats Billy like crap, cares more about his TV set than about his own son, and forces Billy to wear the TV on his hand when he discovers that Billy's arm is mutated, saying that he wants nobody to know his son is a freak. When the TV finally comes off, it is implied that Billy's father is the first person that Billy lashes out against before becoming a full-fledged Jerk Jock.
  • Alpha Bitch:
    • Taylor Fisher is a popular girl who believes herself to be better than anyone else, even going so far as to make a guide to not being a total reject. Fortunately, we only have to put up with her for five minutes, as, naturally, she ends up slaughtered by someone in a Cinderhella mask, namely, Sander Sanderson.
    • Sloan is implied to have been snobby and entitled in her youth, treating a young Karl Verge with disrespect when he expresses attraction towards her. Her daughter, Ione, is closer to a Lovable Alpha Bitch, though, as she is a much better friend to Riley before switching bodies with her mother.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Billy gets his arm hacked off by the killer.
  • Asian and Nerdy: Toshiba, as his name would imply, is the tech savvy student of presumably Japanese descent, who modified the school's bear mascot into a time machine.
  • Bathroom Stall of Overheard Insults: After arriving at school, Riley is in a stall in the girls bathroom when she hears Ione talking to her friends and calling her a loser and asking where she gets off being interested in Clapton, who is Ione's boyfriend.
  • Black Comedy: Only way to make casual jokes about a suicidal girl.
  • Bungled Suicide: Riley attempts to hang herself but slips off the chair before she is ready and starts slowly strangling herself. She is only saved when Cinderhella, attempting to kill her with an axe, winds up cutting her down instead.
  • Brick Joke: Riley's Canadian debate rival Gord and the news reports about the UFO come together in the final scene.
  • Car Cushion: The killer throws the body of Taylor Fisher out of her bedroom window, where it crashes through the windscreen of her mother's car (with her mother still inside the car).
  • 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.
  • Classic Villain: Sander Sanderson is a remorseless murderer motivated by lust towards Riley Jones, and envy of the fact that she has a crush on Clapton Davis. While his Villainous Crush Riley is also lustful and envious regarding Clapton, she only tries to harm herself in response to her own envy, while Sander attacks other people around him when he doesn't get what he wants, including Riley. Furthermore, Riley puts her envy regarding Clapton's relationship with Ione Rose to rest when she thinks that Clapton is the killer. Finally, while Riley is painfully aware of her shortcomings, Sander believes his actions are justified, and hastens to point out Riley's flaws.
  • Courteous Canadian: 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.
  • 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 Karl Verge is a grouchy middle-aged man who hates his job, and wants Clapton to give him an excuse to graduate the latter; additionally, he makes 40 grand a year, plus dental, so he does not let Clapton have a Skittle. In the new timeline where he ends up with Sloane, actually Ione in her mother's body, he ends up being much more personable and likeable, not to mention cooler.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Taylor Fisher, who is basically a more obnoxious version of Casey Becker, is the first character to appear on screen, and if the audience didn't know better, they'd assume she was the main character. Naturally, because, you know, this is a slasher film, she only lasts five minutes.
  • Deus Ax Machina: Sander later grabs a fire axe in order to attempt to kill Riley during their final confrontation, using it to decapitate Alexis when she walks in on him and Riley.
  • Deus ex Machina: Extraterrestrial Ursus Ex Machina. The bear's magnetism powers end up saving the protagonists in the final confrontation.
  • Disc-One Final Boss: It is initially suspected that Clapton Davis is the killer. Clapton is innocent; the real killer is Sander.
  • Disappointed by the Motive: When Riley learns that Sander's motive for killing people amounts to not liking his fellow Grizzly Lake inhabitants, as well as being angry that Riley wouldn't put out, Riley is not amused.
    Riley: You know, Sander, I used to think you were just a middle class chump with no game, but those pity points ran out!
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Sander thinks that Riley rejecting him, justifies his attempts at mass murder, as well as the murders he attempts to commit.
  • Driven to Suicide: Played for laughs in Riley's case, she tries to hang herself while complaining about the debate and Clapton.
  • Enemy Eats Your Lunch:
    Verge: I make 40 G's a year plus dental. You may not have a Skittle.
  • Entitled to Have You: Sander's motive for attempting to blow up Grizzly Lake is more or less because Riley won't hook up with him. Sander seems to think that just because he was attracted to Riley before Clapton expressed any interest in her, she should have been with him.
  • Evil Is Hammy: Sander loses his indoor voice, and throws a tantrum when it is revealed that he is the killer.
  • Evil is Petty: According to Sander, the fact that the girl he has a crush on won't put out for him, and the fact that he simply doesn't like anyone else in Grizzly Lake, is a perfectly acceptable reason to blow up Grizzly Lake and murder his classmates.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Gord turns out to be a plant based alien, who, during the alien invasion, says that his species is invading Grizzly Lake because they are upset at their vegetable kin being consumed by vegans.
  • 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" points 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 is a deadpan girl who wears dark clothing and likes grim things.
  • Granola Girl: Riley Jones, our protagonist, is a social justice and animal welfare minded vegan.
  • Green-Eyed Monster:
    • Riley shows shades of envy towards Clapton and Ione. Riley overcomes her envy when she thinks that Clapton is the killer. In any case, they end up together in the new timeline.
    • Sander, the killer, turns out to envy the fact that Riley likes Clapton, and not him.
  • Hate Sink: Sander Sanderson is introduced making unwanted advances towards Riley Jones, a process he repeats on a regular basis. Overall, Sander reveals himself to be a petty douche who would murder a large number of people for immature reasons.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: Principal Verge is cut in half by the killer in the original timeline.
  • 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.
  • Hormone-Addled Teenager: Sander Sanderson, Riley Jones' classmate, keeps making advances towards her. Sander's motive for committing murder is the fact that Riley won't put out for him.
  • Hot for Teacher: Riley has a crush on her science teacher, Mr. Kendall. Unfortunately (or fortunately) for Riley, Mr. Kendall is a gay married man.
  • Hot Teacher: Mr. Kendall, the physics teacher, who gets a Sexy Soaked Shirt scene when Clapton accidentally sets off the sprinklers, which makes it really hard for Riley to keep her cool.
  • Hypocritical Humour: Sander riffs on everyone going to the mall when given a day off of school after a murder, when he is doing the exact same thing with Riley, Clapton, and Ione, and invites them to a costume party at his house to boot. Sander's comments are much less humourous once you realize he is the killer.
  • If I Can't Have You…: Sander decides to blow up Grizzly Lake, and later attempts to kill Riley, because he cannot handle being rejected by her.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Gord is run through with a ceiling fan and pinned to the door in the original timeline.
  • Incompatible Orientation: Riley has a crush on Hot Teacher Mr. Kendall. Too bad for her, he is gay and his partner arrives to collect him just as she is attempting to put the moves on him.
  • Instant Humiliation: Just Add YouTube!: The 6-second clip of Riley's boob gets over 20,000 views. She starts thinking of herself as a porn star.
  • Jerk Jock: Billy Nolan is an overly macho, easily jealous football player who bullies Clapton Davis for dating the former's ex Ione, actually Sloan in Ione's body.
  • Lady Drunk: Sloan is presented as an adult Jaded Washout who drinks a lot.
  • 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.
  • Mistaken for Pregnant: Principal Verge delivers a lecture to a girl about how there is nothing funny about Teen Pregnancy. At the end, she says she's not pregnant. He then tells her to cut out the carbs.
  • "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?".
  • Obliviously Evil: Downplayed. Sander believes that Riley rejecting him, and his hatred for Grizzly Lake, justify his attempts at mass murder and his successful murders of Taylor and Billy, as well as his multiple attempts at killing Riley. It never ONCE occurs to him that he is being disproportionately vindictive.
  • Off with His Head!: Sander decapitates Alexis when she walks in on him trying to kill Riley and Clapton, obliviously trying to coax him into having sex with her.
  • 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.
  • Psycho Knife Nut: Any time the killer doesn't use an axe, they use a knife. Sander steals the cake knife at the dance, foreshadowing his role as the killer.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Downplayed. Sander, despite being around 18, throws a temper tantrum more appropriate for someone half his age, where he attacks Riley and Clapton, and kills Alexis, all because Riley won't have sex with him. Real mature, Sander.
  • Putting the "Pal" in Principal: In the new timeline, not only does Principal Karl Verge end up with his crush, he ends up becoming more likeable, personable, and even cool, with every implication that he became a much better authority figure to his students. He is even part of a band.
  • 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.
  • Sexy Soaked Shirt: Hot Teacher Mr. Kendall is wearing a white linen shirt that gets plastered to his body and goes see-through when Clapton sets of the sprinklers.
  • The Slacker: Clapton Davis is a lazy student who wants to start a music website. Clapton's grades are poor, prompting Principal Karl Verge to give him an ultimatum: either get an A/Save the world, or be expelled. Clapton ends up doing both alongside Riley, the world saved being Grizzly Lake, and the A for effort in 1992.
  • The Snark Knight: Riley has a very smart mouth, and doesn't hesitate to make wisecracks at the expense of others, including herself.
  • 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 is demonstrated to be a very Social Justice oriented, unabashed animal rights activist, 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 very outspoken with regard to anti-piracy and 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.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Sander may have avoided a Grizzly death if he had let go of the axe he had been holding when it was being pulled by the Grizzly time machine's magnetic field.
  • 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.
  • Villainous Crush: Sander has the hots for Riley, and when she rejects him, he decides to commit mass murder; while he fails to blow up Grizzly Lake in the past, he succeeds in killing Billy and Taylor in both timelines, then attempts to kill Clapton for ending up with Riley, as well as Riley herself for rejecting him.
    Sander: It breaks my spirit to see that bra size wasted on someone like you.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot:
    • Clapton pukes in the school urinal after being confronted by Billy.
    • Riley pukes after tripping Billy during the latter's fight with Clapton.
    • Billy himself pukes acid multiple times in the movie, including shortly before he is dismembered by the killer.
  • 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.