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DETENTION OF THE DEAD
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Reviewed by: Andre Manseau

Directed by: Alex Craig Mann

Starring:
Jacob Zachar
Alexa Nikolas
Christa B. Allen
Jayson Blair
Justin Chon
Max Adler

Movie:  
star star star star
Extras:  
star star star star
Overall:  
star star star star
What's it about
A group of cliched horror stereotypes are trapped in their high school, where it appears that the zombie apocalypse has landed in their lap.
Is it good movie?
I know, I know. You're thinking right away, Breakfast Club with zombies, right? Well, not really. We've got our standard fare for the typical high school characters (do I really need to list the cheerleader, goth, stoner, etc?) who have to try to put aside their differences, loves and desires in order to survive the hordes. It has a pretty standard setup, a teacher is supervising some students in detention while a student complains about being bitten by a homeless guy before landing there. From here the teacher gets bitten (heads fly!) and then the outbreak sets in.

Unfortunately, Detention just doesn't work very well. Take all aspirations of horror out of the picture, first of all. This is not a scary movie in any form. Sure, there are zombies, but this flick is played almost completely for broad, goofy laughs. To add to this, the characters just don't really seem to care about the zombies. During the big reveal scene where the zombies show up, Eddie (our heroic nerd protagonist who teams up with Brad and Janet..get it?) pretty much just brushes it all off and doesn't instill much of a sense of panic at all.

Though there are plenty of references, winks and nods to different horror flicks that came before it, the dialogue in the film tends to be practically cringe-worthy at almost every turn. It also doesn't help that the characters are so one-note and wooden through most of the film, that by the time they do begin to develop slightly near the film's mid-point, it's pretty much too late. With that said, If you're into really lowbrow, college style humor, you'll get some laughs. Lots of dick jokes, if you're into that sort of thing.

Another problem I had with this one is that it just seems to break its own rules. In a strange lack of logic, the two main characters seem to "love" zombie movies, whereas most of the people in the school have never even heard of the concept of zombies..that's odd. Without spoiling anything, the ending is best classified as an absolute stretch. There's a certain character who can suddenly kill the zombies by breaking a rule that had been established as unbreakable early on in the film, and that whole struggle isn't even documented on camera- the person just succeeds and you hardly get to see any of it.

In terms of zombie action, it's a bit of a mixed bag. The gore effects are there, though they're sometimes completed through the use of some awful CGI. However, they're really hit and miss. The zombies are not turning in great performances here, and the makeup on many of their faces tends to look like someone smeared jam across their mug. Some of the blood and guts look incredibly phony, and are often punctuated with a distinct lack of blood, which is disappointing.
At the end of the day, this flick tries really hard to be funny and scary, and just ends up wallowing in it. It just doesn't work.
Video / Audio
 Video: A 2.35:1 widescreen transfer gives us a decent, standard def transfer that looks pretty solid.

Audio: Dolby 5.1 is the audio order of the day, and the sound is mixed well, with a good balance between channels.
The Extras
The main meat here is a chunky 45 minute behind the scenes segment (kind of a patchwork of featurettes woven together) that really shows off how the film came together. It's nothing out of the ordinary, but goes in-depth with the cast and crew, and the usual behind the scenes stuff (with lots of references to John Hughes and horror influences).

Also included is an Audio Commentary by Writer/Director Alex Craig Mann, who is a friendly guy who loves this flick and it shows through in his track. Easy to listen to.
Last Call
I was hoping that Detention of the Dead might draw a little inspiration from the great movies that influence it, but wound up being a bit disappointed. If you've got a couple of non-discriminating 14 year old boys who just can't bear to watch American Pie 12, perhaps this one will fit the bill in the meantime. Otherwise, skip it.
ARROW IN THE HEAD'S RATING SYSTEM
star star star star I'D BUTCHER MY FAMILY TO SEE THIS AGAIN
star star star HANG ME BUT I DUG IT A LOT
star star AN OK WAY TO KILL TWO HOURS
star JUST SLING AN ARROW IN MY HEAD AND LET ME DIE IN PEACE

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