Detention of the Dead (2012)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Detention of the Dead</strong> (2012)

(On Cable TV, July 2015)  “The Breakfast Club for the zombie generation” is a fair way to describe Detention of the Dead, as it features half a dozen mismatched students stuck in detention, suddenly dealing with a zombie epidemic ravaging their school (and, presumably, the world).  A fair warning, though: this is a very low-budget film adapted from a stage play, so don’t expect much more than adequate production values, acting or staging.  Much of the zombie material is strictly standard fare, with a few odd moments that don’t necessarily contribute much to the film other than to boost its running time into feature-film territory.  Of course, this isn’t a film to be taken seriously: the references to previous horror films abound, the tropes are completely familiar and it’s definitely meant to be a comedy first rather than a pure horror film.  While Detention of the Dead should work based on the strength of its characters, dialogue and situations, the best it can do is a bit of amusement.  The actors aren’t all strong enough to carry their roles, the staging isn’t always convincing, some of the references seem forced, the love triangle doesn’t really work, the order in which the characters die is almost entirely predictable and for all of the slight attempts at playing with the tropes of the genres it melts together, Detention of the Dead remains far too beholden to the core concepts of zombie films to bring anything new.  Shaun of the Dead it isn’t.  Still, comparing this film to the best examples of the sub-genre ignores the fact that at a time where terrible zombie movies rise up faster than reviewers can shoot them in the head, writer/director Alex Craig Mann has managed to craft a mildly entertaining film on a threadbare budget.  It could have been far, far worse.

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