When horror and comedy together are done right, the result can be classic. Look no further than The Evil Dead or Shaun of the Dead, for proof. Originally titled The Detained, Netlix’s latest release, Deadly Detention, looks to tap into the same campy vibe as 2017’s The Babysitter. But is this horror spoof inspired luanacy? Or is it an ‘incomplete assignment’?
Five high school students are stuck serving an all-day Saturday detention in an abandoned correctional facility. But when a shadowy killer murders their supervising principal, the rules quickly change. Now the killer forces the students to find a way out of the prison’s labyrinth halls.
Deadly Detention Flunks As A Spoof
Are ‘camp’ movies unintentionally ‘bad’ movies that go off the rails, like Showgirls? Or is ‘camp’ an intentional creative direction like John Waters’ eclectic filmography? In the case of Deadly Detention, the distinction doesn’t matter. Regardless of director Blair Hayes’ intent, Deadly Deadly flunks. Neither funny nor scary, this slasher spoof is a chore to watch.
It doesn’t help that several movies have spoofed slasher movies with much better results.
As a spoof of slasher movies, Deadly Detention is painfully unfunny. Screenwriters Casie Tabanou and Alison Spuck McNeeley have a poor grasp on the subgenre and where it would best be subject to parody. It doesn’t help that several movies have already spoofed slashers with much better results. Cabin in the Woods, Final Girl, or You Might Be The Killer are all superior examples of slasher spoofs.
As a spoof of high school movies, Deadly Detention doesn’t fare much better. The movie’s official synopsis refers to ‘five archetypal teens’, positioning it as a horror update of The Breakfast Club. But Tabanou and McNeeley don’t have anything funny to say about their archetypes. That is, Deadly Detention’s humour isn’t broad, it’s flat. Trying to be ‘bad’ doesn’t disqualify a movie from actually being bad. Somewhere in the ‘spoof’, there needs to be some clever riffing.
Middle School Parody Project
Aside from being decidedly unfunny, Deadly Detention is tonally inconsistent. Horrror-comedy camp classics like The Evil Dead, Dead Alive, and Deathgasm have one big thing in common. Copious amounts of blood and gore. Do you know what Deadly Detention is missing? Blood and gore. That’s right, Deadly Detention is middle school horror-comedy for the pre-teen set. Unbelievably, you will find no blood-spurting kills in a movie that in part is spoofing slasher movies. While The Babysitter had some broad humour, it delivered the over-the-top blood and guts in buckets.
As it turns out, it’s hard to elicit much empathy from cardboard cut-out characters.
In addition, Deadly Detention has long stretches of boring attempts at character development. As it turns out, it’s hard to elicit much empathy from cardboard cut-out characters. When your movie is less than 90 minutes, boring should not be a problem. At the movie’s climax, there’s also an inexplicable attempt at serious drama. No big bloody showdown. That’s right, Deadly Detention slows things to a grind for an expository-heavy ‘twist’ that is as empty as it is meangingless. Maybe the movie was spoofing lame slasher twists. If that’s the case, it failed. Miserably. A few final lame jokes make sure of it.
Deadly Detention Is Lazy Horror Comedy
Trying to evoke ‘camp’ qualities doesn’t make a movie ‘critic proof’. Notwithstanding its attempts at parody, Deadly Detention is a dreadful movie. It’s the rare kind of bad that actually infuriated me. There’s nothing remotely clever or subversive about it. This is lazy film-making that’s appeal will be limited to early high school students.