Detention of the Dead is a zombie comedy released in 2012 and directed by Alex Craig Mann.
Detention of the Dead is pretty much exactly what you think it is: The Breakfast Club meets any B-movie zombie flick you could find buried in the back of a video rental shop.
The film revolves around a bunch of high-school stereotypes (the stoner, the jock, the cheerleader, the goth, and so on) who wind up in detention together, only to discover that things have taken a somewhat apocalyptic turn outside the detention hall. With the school zombified, the group must fight to survive, as well as finding out some harsh truths about the people they thought they had a handle on…
Detention of the Dead is more of a self-conscious parody than it is an all-out zombie movie, and that’s a difficult thing to balance. If we take something like Shaun of the Dead as the perfect example of a zombie parody done right, it’s because there are strong characters, a recognisable plot, and a sharp, constant understanding and undermining of the genre’s tropes. And that’s not to say that Detention of the Dead is a complete failure on all, or indeed any, of those fronts – a good chunk of the first act is given over to quippy dialogue that helps fill out the generic high-school stereotypes who populate the movie, never resting on those clichés to fill out characters, and the plot has some bite to it (if you’ll excuse the pun), with fast pacing and a satisfying climax that doesn’t come across like everyone involved just ran out of ideas and stuck whatever they could think of on to the end (as is the case with many parody films).
The movie itself is consistently aware of and making reference to it’s predecessors, whether it’s simply with the characters referencing other zombie movies or subtle nods for hardcore aficionados, such as the Savini Library. And, if you’re a regular old gore-fiend like me, you probably won’t object to the glorious amounts of straight-up nastiness that spatters across Detention of the Dead in spades. What I’m saying is that Detention of the Dead is far from a wasted exercise, and it has a lot to recommend to it. But that doesn’t absolve it of it’s sins.
There’s little atmosphere or tension-building at play here, and, while I appreciate a film with a sense of humour, this one occasionally feels like it’s striking out for the lowest common denominator instead of attempting more intelligent humour. It’s not a film that’s actually trying to say something (like it’s nearest cousins, Dawn of the Dead (1978) and The Breakfast Club (1985)), even though it seems to occasionally be making movements in that direction. I’m not demanding constant, provocative social commentary here, but a bit more bite wouldn’t have gone amiss.
As parody horror movies go, Detention of the Dead is amongst the better of them – it’s funny, packed with references for horror aficionados, and delivers heavily on the gore factor. It could stand to be a bit more grown-up, but if you’re looking for a film to kick back with and drink beer over, this is probably the one for you.
Watch the trailer for Detention of the Dead below:
Watch the full movie:
|Get the film at iTunes|
|Get the film at Amazon|
Written by: Robin Bailes.