By Joe Bendel. Serial killers love killing teenagers. That is about the only convention upheld in a new horror mash-up that gleefully defies all the laws of nature and constraints of logic. Nothing will be allowed to suppress the body count in Joseph Kahn’s amazingly frenetic and kinetic Detention (trailer here), which opens this Friday in New York.
Man, where do you start with this? Possibly with arrogant cheerleader Taylor Fisher, who used to rule Grizzly Lake High, until she was murdered by a serial killer apparently inspired by Cinderhella, the horror-movie-within-the-horror-movie franchise character. Her place at the top of the status totem pole is filled by Ione Willis, who has been slumming with Clapton Davis, the childhood guy-friend misfit-mascot Riley Jones carries a massive torch for. She is having a bad high school career. Socially shunned and hobbling about on a walking cast, she was contemplating suicide until Cinderhella started stalking her. Unfortunately, everyone dismisses her claims as a pathetic plea for attention.
That is about the first five minutes of Detention. From there, Kahn steps on the gas, spinning out into outrageous territory. Teenagers will be hacked up, Jones will be humiliated several times over, the space-time continuum will be jeopardized, and audiences will witness a truly wicked send-up of The Breakfast Club.
Kahn is like a postmodern hipster Mel Brooks, launching an incredible barrage of jokes at the audience, which are rather clever, more often than not. Indeed, it is truly impressive how consistently he maintains the sheer breakneck pace of the madness. Viewers will leave Detention with their heads spinning like Regan MacNeil, but in a good way. Khan really has an unusual flair for visuals and a keen sense of pop culture. There is one extended scene marking the passage of time at Grizzly Lake through emblematic songs of years past that approaches outright brilliance.
Frankly, his ensemble cast deserves kudos just for keeping up the amped-up lunacy. They are all quite game, including Spencer Locke as Willis, which turns out to be a rather more complicated part than we might expect. Even Dane Cook is quite funny as Principal Verge, perhaps even redeeming himself for the mess that is Answers to Nothing. However, it is some of the supporting players who really bring the mojo, like rapper Dumboundead as Toshiba the exchange student and Walter Perez as Elliot Fink, a character beyond explanation in this limited space.
Detention is like Scream on a heart-bursting dose of speed. Just watching it careen by is a riotous trip. Largely self-financed by Kahn, Detention is quite an enterprising and idiosyncratic accomplishment. Enthusiastically recommended for horror fans not susceptible to seizures, it opens this Friday (4/13) in New York at the AMC Empire and in San Francisco at the AMC Metreon.
LFM GRADE: A
Posted on April 11th, 2012 at 9:09am.
Marvel’s highly anticipated The Avengers has its world premiere in Hollywood tonight, and more clips are now coming out from the film. In the scene above, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) confronts Loki (Tom Hiddleston) in Stark’s swanky New York City apartment over an invading alien horde Loki will be leading against Earth.
It’s amazing how many such hordes are attacking Earth these days – you’d think they’d have something better to do. Like help Lamar Odom resurrect his career.
Also: if you haven’t already read it, feel free to check out our LFM interview with Marvel’s Stan Lee from this year’s Slamdance Film Festival.
Posted on April 11th, 2012 at 9:08am.
By Joe Bendel. This small town carries of load of bad karma. It all started with the cave-in at the now defunct mine, but it also has a great deal of closed door angst to contend with, as well as a local boogeyman. Three pre-teens discover the truth behind a related series of mysterious abductions in Gregory Wilson’s Ghoul (promo here), an original adaptation of Brian Keene’s novel produced by Modernciné, which airs on the Chiller TV network this Friday the thirteenth.
Timmy Graco is the most fortunate of the trio of friends. His dad is a bit of a hardcase about his chores, but that is it. It is pretty obvious Barry Smeltzer’s father beats him like a rented mule. Doug Keiser’s problems will be revealed later in the film, but it is safe to say his father’s absence troubles him greatly. When they can evade their parents, they hang in their subterranean club house in the cemetery where Smeltzer’s father works as the drunken caretaker.
The first death in Ghoul is from natural causes: Graco’s beloved grandfather. However, many more people start disappearing under mysterious circumstances around the cemetery. That does not dissuade the three boys from wanting to explore the tunnel they accidentally discover in the cemetery service shed, but fate conspires to send other clueless victims in first.
Throughout the film, Graco consults his faux-E.C. Comics as a model of how to deal with the uncanny. Essentially, this means Ghoul start out promising to be Creepshow but evolves into a sinister variation on the Goonies. Probably shot on a budget under $500, the tunnel scenes actually look decently ominous. It is also cool to see Catherine Mary Stewart (star of Night of the Comet, the greatest George Romero rip-off ever), even if as Graco’s mother she only gets lines like “come to dinner” or “it’s time for bed.” However, to put it diplomatically, viewers will probably not be taking down most of the young cast-members names for future reference.
Despite the limitations of ensemble and effects, Wilson successfully conveys a sense of the past’s evil influence on the present and a general lurking dread. Viewers get an impression of what readers probably responded to in Keene’s novel and why Wilson and the Modernciné team wanted to film it. It is also worth noting that the town pastor is not an immoral hypocrite, which is quite the welcome departure from traditional horror movie clichés. Though admittedly flawed, the evocative atmosphere and vibe of Ghoul is still worth checking out on television, especially on Friday the thirteenth. After a special buzz-generating screening at this year’s Slamdance Film Festival in Park City, Ghoul premieres this Friday on Chiller TV.
Posted on April 11th, 2012 at 9:07am.