Detention (2011 film)

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Theatrical release poster
Directed by Joseph Kahn
Produced by Josh Hutcherson, Richard Weager, MaryAnne Tanedo
Written by Joseph Kahn
Mark Palermo
Starring Josh Hutcherson
Shanley Caswell
Spencer Locke
Aaron David Johnson
Walter Perez
Dane Cook
Marque Richardson
Music by Brain & Melissa
Cinematography Christopher Probst
Edited by David Blackburn
Detention Films, LLC
Distributed by United States:
Samuel Goldwyn Films (theatrical)
Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions Group (all media)
Release dates
  • March 13, 2011 (2011-03-13) (SXSW Festival Premiere)
April 13, 2012
Running time
95 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $10 million[1]

Detention is a 2011 American comedy-horror film directed by Joseph Kahn, and co-written with Mark Palermo. The film premiered March 2011 in Austin, Texas at SXSW.[2] Detention stars Josh Hutcherson, Dane Cook, Spencer Locke, Shanley Caswell, Walter Perez, Organik and Erica Shaffer. Produced by Richard Weager and MaryAnne Tanedo.


The film opens with Taylor Fisher, the most popular girl in Grizzly Lake, waking up and telling the audience about her 'guide to not being a total reject' while screaming at her family. As she is about to leave for school, she is brutally murdered by someone dressed as Cinderhella, the serial killer from a fictional horror film series Taylor mentions. The scene shifts to Riley Jones, a cynical outcast, who has a broken leg and a poster above her bed of the only person she considers to be a bigger loser than herself – a girl who performed oral sex on the stuffed grizzly bear school mascot in 1992. She makes an attempt on her life with a pill overdose, before hearing a song she loves on the radio. She is late for school, and her dad is too drunk to drive her. She misses the bus and is forced to walk, and on the way is robbed of her iPod by an unnamed hipster. She arrives late to school where the audience is introduced to Clapton Davis, a slacker hipster liked by virtually everyone and who Riley has a crush on; Ione Foster, the cheerleader former best friend of Riley and current girlfriend of Clapton; Sander Sanderson, Clapton's friend who frequently suggests to Riley that they have sex; and Billy Nolan, the school jock and ex-boyfriend of Ione, who is still obsessed with her. Billy challenges Clapton to a fight after school for the right to date Ione. Later, as Clapton accidentally sets off the indoor sprinkler system he has a flashback to one week earlier – Principal Verge, who strongly dislikes Clapton for his care-free attitude, informs him that unless he can get an A or save the world by prom, will not graduate. Since Taylor is absent (due to being murdered), Ione is assigned as head cheerleader for the playoff game and Riley as the school mascot. Riley loses a debate on the ethics of eating meat to Canadian exchange student Gord, who beats her with claims that humans will lose their place in the food chain but that it is only right to eat baby animals. In the cafeteria, Sander attempts to comfort her by telling her 'at least you're not the girl who fucked the bear', but she is unconvinced. Riley attempts to hang herself in front of the school's stuffed grizzly bear, but again changes her mind, as she tries to get down, she is attacked by Cinderhella with an axe and almost strangled, but she is saved when the bell rings and Cinderhella flees.

Just as Billy and Clapton's fight is about to start, the police arrive to inform the students of Taylor's murder. Riley tries to convince the police of her attack, but they do not believe her. At home, Riley is again attacked and manages to escape by running through her neighbours backyards and falling into a pool. The police arrive but still remain skeptical due to the similarities of her attacker to both of the movies Cinderhella and Scream. Clapton arrives to comfort her. They ride around the neighborhood on his skateboard, and Riley invites herself to see a movie with Clapton and Ione. They are almost kicked out by the usher (Gord, again beating Riley in a debate) for arguing and taking pictures, and afterwards, at a bowling alley, Ione, with Sander and Clapton present, reasons that she is more likely to be murdered by Cinderhella than Riley because of her popularity and financial class. This results in a food fight and a flashback to six months before, where Ione is seen encouraging Riley to ask Clapton out, and then to a month previously, where Ione ignores Riley's feelings for Clapton and makes clear her intentions to pursue him.

During the football game, Billy's hand oozes a white slime that causes the ball to stick to him. He crashes into Riley, who sees the ooze as well as Billy vomiting acid. In the locker room, Billy confesses to Riley that he is part fly. He explains that as a child he found a meteor that, when he touched it, deformed his right hand. His father, not wanting people to know his son was "a freak", placed a T.V. set on it to cover it up. He suffered much ridicule until recently when he removed it to find his hand healed. However, he began to exhibit fly-like symptoms, including growing wings, incredible strength and vomiting acid. Afterwards, at a "costume party" at Sander's house, where only Sander and Riley dress up (Sander as Jean-Luc Picard, Riley as Angela Chase), Riley gets very drunk after seeing Clapton kissing Ione and begins to make out with Sander in an attempt to make Clapton jealous. Sander gets his hand caught in her overalls while groping her, and her breast pops out. The whole event was recorded by a party attendee. Billy calls out for Clapton to fight him, but Ione berates and humiliates him by saying that his semen glows in the dark. Angered, he goes to an upstairs bedroom as he begins to exhibit fly mutations. Cinderhella attacks him from behind and dismembers him with an ax. The aftermath of the murder was also recorded and posted online by the party attendee. Because of the murders and Riley's "snuff porno", Principal Verge makes all of the students who he believes to be suspects attend Saturday detention, from 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM on the same night as prom. Clapton, Ione, Riley, and Sander are joined by Mimi, the local goth, Toshiba, the "smartest or weirdest kid in school" who has a crush on Mimi, Gord, and Toby T, a loner who rarely says anything.

While trying to figure out who the killer is, the group comes to the conclusion that none of them could be the killer. Gord because usually Canadians do not kill outside of Canada, Sander because he is too weak to use an ax, Mimi because she simply doesn't care, Toshiba for being Toshiba, Clapton and Ione because they are always together, Riley because she had a broken leg during one of the murders, and Toby T because he is just boring. Riley suddenly notices a student in a hoodie sitting among them. He tells them his name is Elliot Fink and that he has been in detention since 1992, but cannot remember what for. He recognizes Ione as being in detention in 1992 as well, but can't explain how. In a flashback, it is revealed that in order to win the school dance-off, Ione switched minds with her mother Sloane's teen self in 1992 through unknown alien means. Seeing how easy it is to be popular in the past, Ione opted to stay. This explains "Ione"s sudden interest in Clapton, his mutual attraction to her, her recent habit of making 90's pop references, and the collapse of her and Riley's friendship. As the scene returns to the present, Riley finds a bloody teddy bear and shoe, belonging to Taylor, on her desk. Realizing the killer is in fact one of them, they decide to watch the pirated Cinderhella 3 to see what the killer will do. The movie, a parody of their own situation with many movies-within-movies, finishes and the students all scream thinking they are about to be mass murdered. Principal Verge comes into the room warning the students to not make any commotion. When he leaves, however, Gord is seen impaled to the door by the ceiling fan. Verge hears the students screams and is cut in half by the murderer. As the students barricade the door, Elliot finishes carving an equation written in his notebook onto his desk and comes to the conclusion that the world (actually only Grizzly Lake, but as none of the students have ever left town, there is little difference) is going to end in ten minutes. However, it is ten minutes in 1992. He hypothesizes that one of them must have time-traveled to 1992 and caused an explosion that would lead to re-writing of the future.

Toshiba reveals that he has been converting the school bear's organic superconductive magnets (caused by the bear being brought to earth by aliens, thus explaining why it has such a strong magnetic pull) into a time machine for his Quantum Physics class project. At the same time, both Clapton and Sander are missing. The group believes that Clapton, being afraid to face the future as well as hating Verge and Billy, both murder victims, went into the past to stop the future from happening. Riley uses the time machine to follow Clapton to 1992 and stop him. She wanders the halls, sees her dad drinking from a flask, and tells him that that is why Mom left him. When she finds Clapton, he confesses that he followed Sander through the time machine, has been attending school for six weeks, and is in fact on the Honor Roll, his teachers giving him good grades because his incorrect answers had "heart". Clapton realizes that teen Verge, being rejected by Ione in her mother's body, is making a bomb in science class, and Sander is helping him because Riley is only interested in Clapton and also believes everyone in town is lame. It is meant to just blow up in his face and leave him with a scar, but with Sander's help it will be much more powerful.

They find Sander and Verge before the bomb is triggered and drag Sander back to the time machine. Verge was still able to make the bomb go off, having been given the information he needed. Clapton and Riley travel back six minutes before the bomb is triggered and decide the only way to stop Verge is to have Ione, as Sloane, take him to prom. They find her and she recognizes Riley and Clapton (her friends from 2011). Ione (in Sloan's body) reluctantly asks Verge to prom and he accepts. Sander tries to detonate the bomb himself, but only manages to blow himself up. Riley tries to activate the bear time machine by pulling a lever between its legs, and is photographed by Elliot Fink - who is whisked off to detention. Clapton and Riley return to the present. It has drastically changed. Verge is still alive and married to Sloan. Verge is also a part of a band with Mimi, Gord, and Toby T. It is prom and Clapton and Riley are named King & Queen. As they are about to share their first kiss in the hallway, they notice a memorial for Billy and Taylor. Sander is revealed to be the killer and tries to kill both of them. Clapton and Sander fight but Sander stabs him. Sander breaks Riley's leg once more, and as he moves to cut off her head with an ax, it is pulled towards the bear by magnetic fields. Many sharp metal objects are pulled to the bear, and Riley and Sander are pulled slowly towards it. Riley steps forward on her broken foot to pull away from Sander, and he is impaled by the bear's teeth.

Riley narrates that high school is not the end of the world while Gord announces on T.V. that he is, in fact, a vegetable based alien who became a Canadian to help invade Earth. His race is upset because vegans eat his kind. The film ends with Riley and Clapton watching the news as the aliens begin their invasion.


Director Joseph Kahn and actress Shanley Caswell at the screening of Detention at the LA Film School, April 2012.


Financed largely by Joseph Kahn himself, filming began in Los Angeles, CA August 2010 and finished shooting October 2010. The Director of Photography, Christopher Probst, shot the film digitally on Red Ones.[3] The production set visual effects supervisor is Chris Watts and post production visual effects supervision by Ingenuity Engine in Hollywood, California. Production Design for the film was by veteran music video and commercial designer, Marcelle Gravel.


Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions acquired this film's worldwide distribution rights,[4] and opened the film on April 13, 2012 in select US theaters. A Canadian release followed on April 27. The film was released on Blu-ray & DVD on July 31. Detention also appears on Netflix.


The film received mixed to negative reviews, maintaining a 38% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 39 reviews, and 46% from audiences. On the similar site, Metacritic, the film has a rating of 45/100.


Detention won the Youth Jury Prize at the 2011 Seattle International Film Festival.[5] The film also won L’Écran Fantastique Prize 2011 at Montreal's Fantasia Film Festival as well as the Midnight Extreme Award at Spain's Sitges. London's Frightfest gave it the Biggest Surprise Award and organizer Alan Jones named Detention as his overall favorite film of the festival in 2011.[6] Critic Devin Faraci called Detention "Insane, Hyperkinetic, Next Level Filmmaking."[7] Drew McWeeny of Hitfix described it a "manic throwback horror comedy for the Twitter generation."[8] Quint of Aint-It-Cool-News raved "time traveling teen pop culture comedy Detention is a runaway freight train of frenetic energy!"[9] Renn Brown of CHUD said "Detention may very well be completely brilliant (5 of 5 stars)."[10] Kevin Sommerfield from Slasher Studios also gave it a glowing review stating the film "is Scream meets Scott Pilgrim with a dash or two of Kaboom, it makes for one wild cocktail."[11]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Detention – SXSW 2011 Accepted Film on YouTube
  3. ^ Pollock, Jason (2011-03-21). "SXSW/American Cinematographer – Detention's Christopher Probst". Retrieved 2012-07-15. 
  4. ^ "Sony Pictures Worldwide Takes On "Detention" | Filmmakers, Film Industry, Film Festivals, Awards & Movie Reviews". Indiewire. 2011-06-15. Retrieved 2012-07-15. 
  5. ^ "37th Seattle International Film Festival Wraps With 2011 Golden Space Needle Awards < News < Seattle International Film Festival". 2011-12-06. Retrieved 2012-07-15. 
  6. ^ Film Fests Fantastic Fest FrightFest UK (2011-09-01). "FrightFest 2011: Ben’s Report". Brutal As Hell. Retrieved 2012-07-15. 
  7. ^ "Movie Review: DETENTION Is Insane, Hyperkinetic, Next Level Filmmaking". Badass Digest. 2011-04-06. Retrieved 2012-07-15. 
  8. ^ McWeeny, Drew (2011-03-16). "SXSW Review: Joseph Kahns Detention is manic throwback horror comedy for Twitter generation". Retrieved 2012-07-15. 
  9. ^ "Ain't It Cool News: The best in movie, TV, DVD, and comic book news". Retrieved 2012-07-15. 
  10. ^ Brown, Renn (2011-03-17). "Festival Review: DETENTION (SXSW ’11)". Retrieved 2012-07-15. 
  11. ^ Sommerfield, Kevin (2012-08-02). "Hip "Detention" Plays As Wild Slasher Cocktail With No Hangover". Retrieved 2012-08-04. 

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