Review: ‘Detention of the Dead’ is held captive by cliches and idiocy

Justin Chon, Max Adler, Jayson Blair, Christa B. Allen, Jacob Zachar and Alexa Nikolas in "Detention of the Dead."
(Anchor Bay Films / Starz Digital Media)

Is there anything worse than a horror movie that isn’t scary? Yes — a horror-comedy that’s neither scary nor funny. There may not be an actual zombie epidemic, but there is a zombie entertainment plague for sure. “Detention of the Dead” is the latest attempt to cash in on all things undead, as well as all things teenager. Call it genre hedge-betting, I guess.

Co-writer/director Alex Craig Mann’s witless stitching-up of “The Breakfast Club,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and George Romero — based on a play by co-writer Rob Rinow — is a high school detention scenario in which the virginal nerd (Jacob Zachar), the sassy goth girl (Alexa Nikolas), the stoner (Justin Chon), the dim cheerleader (Christa B. Allen), the jock (Jayson Blair) and, well, another jock (Max Adler) stave off an oncoming horde of flesh-eaters.

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The only zombie-as-metaphor this movie has to offer is the grim spectacle of brain-dead filmmakers feeding off the same trite — and in the case of the women — ugly stereotypes. Six-year-olds at recess could come up with a wittier script and more charming performances, since they probably wouldn’t be hampered by lame pop culture references, laziness disguised as parody, and gore disguised as slapstick.



“Detention of the Dead”

Rating: No MPAA rating

Running time: 1 hour, 27 minutes

Playing at: Laemmle NoHo 7 and Pasadena Playhouse.