Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Detention Movie Poster Image
Bloody teen slasher ridicules genre's many stereotypes.
  • R
  • 2012
  • 88 minutes

Parents say

age 17+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 4 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Despite all of Detention's crude gore, substance use, and sex jokes, the filmmakers do challenge the audience with some interesting ideas about popular culture. All of the movie's excessive self-referential humor and commentary forces media-savvy audiences to consider just how predictable and formulaic teen slasher flicks have been in recent movie history. A couple of scenes -- like the montage of high-school detention throughout the '90s and '00s -- are particularly clever ways of demonstrating the genre's stereotypes.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Riley and Clapton are determined to do whatever it takes to save not just themselves but also the principal and the school (even though they kind of hate their school). And at the very least, each character is slightly more complicated than their "type" in the genre: Clapton is a popular skater but is also bullied and likes throwback music like Sting, Riley is a social misfit who's still thought of as desirable and cool by some, Ione is a head cheerleader but is also unusually smart, and even the dim-bulb jock is actually something you'd never expect.


The aim of Detention's graphic violence is to shock but also to amuse, so many of the plentiful gory scenes have a humorous undertone. There's a ton of blood on display during the various killings. Teens are usually hacked to death by the Cinderhella copycat, but other characters blow up, have their limbs amputated, and otherwise meet their end in a bloody manner. The movies within the movie are even gorier than the feature film, featuring gross torture sequences. In one case, a girl is forced to place an item inside her stomach, so her insides are visible. Needless to say, there's a high body count. An attempted suicide is treated in a joking manner.


Many crude mentions of sex, virginity, sexual acts/positions, and body parts/fluids. There's nudity (an exposed breast that's sexted around the school) and breasts in a movie-within-a-movie sequence. One scene shows a high-school football player having sex (he's bare-chested and thrusting on top of his date) in bed. There's an involved discussion about how only virgins are targeted by masked movie serial killers, and then the two girls taunt each other that they should each be safe (since one is promiscuous and the other has an embarrassing first time to recount).  A girl tells her ex that he lied because it's "not normal for semen to glow in the dark." Riley turns a chaste comforting hug from a handsome teacher into a come on until he breaks the embrace with a nod toward his lover, who smacks him in the rear. Two teens get into a scuffle that looks like the guy is having sex instead of fighting with the girl.


Several uses of "f--k," plus frequent use of other curse words like "s--t," "bitch," "a--hole," "c--k," "d--k," and more.


Constant references to popular culture, particularly the '80s and '90s. Every scene includes mentions of movies, TV shows, musicians, songs, and even fashion trends. The most referenced are the movies Scream and The Karate Kid, as well as Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, My So-Called Life, Sting, Hanson, etc.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Lots of underage drinking -- from beer to hard liquor (vodka, cocktails). Several teenagers get drunk at a party, some to the point of vomiting. Riley purposely drinks until she's so wasted that she hooks up with someone on the couch and winds up exposing her breast, which is quickly photographed and texted to the entire school. A mother is a lush who's rarely shown without a drink in her hand.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that, like most slasher flicks aimed at high schoolers, Detention is a crudely violent film with crass language and sex talk, including a couple of scenes with partial nudity. There's loads of the blood, gore, and at times comic violence expected from this genre, but there's also one scene of a girl trying to hang herself that might upset parents and disturb any teen who's ever dealt with suicidal thoughts or the suicide of a loved one. The language includes the usual suspects of "f--k," "s--t," "bitch," and other insults. There are lots of references to sex (including virginity, promiscuity, bodily fluids, etc.) and two quick glimpses of breasts and one of teens having sex in bed. Underage characters also drink, sometimes to the point of extreme drunkenness. Although there aren't many role models in the story, the movie does make audiences think about all of the stereotypes in popular teen horror films.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bywonder dove September 14, 2012

Waste of anyone's time!!!

Didn't like it, couldn't finish it. This movie was beyond ridiculous! With mixed online reviews, I wasn't sure what to expect but was curious eno... Continue reading
Parent of an infant, 13, and 16-year-old Written byParentReviewer August 8, 2012

Think Scary Movie toned down a bit.

This Movie is basically Scott Pilgrim vs the World meets Scream. It's a "spoof" of Scary Movies but not any in specific, just in general. There i... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byi just like movies October 17, 2014

Funny in a bad way

To be honest I was really pumped to see this movie. I ended up finding hilarious, but not in the way I wanted it to be. The plot made no sense and was so out of... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byBruno Mars May 15, 2013


this movie is cool for ages like 14 and up, you here a lot of cussing. Blood and gore is including with some raunchy humor. other than that it's a heck of... Continue reading

What's the story?

After Grizzly Lake High's queen bee is killed by a masked loon copying a popular slasher movie's villain, CinderHella, the entire school barely pauses to grieve her. Instead, the action follows a loose clique of friends: adorable skateboarding hipster Clapton (Josh Hutcherson); his smitten neighbor, smart social misfit Riley (Shanley Caswell); her ex-BFF, head cheerleader Ione (Spencer Locke); and nerdy lovable loser Mike (Aaron Perilo). Riley, who's suicidal over the fact that her love for Clapton is unrequited, narrowly escapes a CinderHella hacking and then spends most of the film trying to convince her pals that she's not making up the near-death encounter. Eventually the teen-hating principal (Dane Cook) punishes the foursome with a Breakfast Club-style Saturday DETENTION, where the identity of CinderHella takes time travel to uncover.

Is it any good?

Detention is easily the kind of hyper, overbearingly referential teen flick that could garner a cult following among audiences (read: teens). They could easily look past the exhaustive jumbling of genres and sheer number of inside jokes. It's definitely not just aimed at high schoolers, either, given that every other line of dialogue mentions an '80s or '90s show/song/film -- from The Karate Kid to My So-Called Life. But there's just too much of everything -- snarkily translated texts, meta commentary, Scream jokes -- to come together as a cohesive narrative. Not to mention that teen suicide gags are kind of tasteless. Want to kill the school mean girl? By all means. But making light of a girl trying to hang herself is cringe-worthy for any parent to watch.

Thanks to Hutcherson's high-profile role in The Hunger Games, Detention is likely to enjoy disproportionate interest. And as always, he's an actor who can do a lot with very little. He's got expressive eyes and an approachable attractiveness that makes him likable, even when the movie isn't. Just when you're ready to give up on Detention's frenetic blending and copying and ridiculing, it will offer up an extremely clever sequence that's genuinely entertaining. One such scene: joining the four central kids in detention is Elliot Fink (Walter Perez), a guy who claims he's sat in detention every day for nearly two decades. A hilarious montage ensues that proves that while fashion and music and technology may change, teenagers never really do.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the self referential way that Detention makes audiences think about slasher flick stereotypes. How do all the mentions of movies like Scream and other teen films highlight the formulaic nature of the high-school horror genre?

  • Is the violence in Detention actually scary? Why are so many horror films based in high school? Were the death scenes frightening? How does humor impact the movie's violence?

  • How is teen drinking depicted? Which characters got drunk, and how did drinking affect their actions and behavior? What are the real-life consequences of underage drinking?

  • The movie pokes fun at the constant use of technology by teens -- particularly texting. Does the movie make texting look useful, or is it also depicted as ridiculous?

Movie details

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