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Detention of the Dead / The Demented

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Imagine if zombies invaded The Breakfast Club. That’s literally the setup experienced by your stock-character students of the nerd, the jock, the misfit, the bully, the cheerleader and, so it’s not a total copy of the 1985 John Hughes classic, a wisecracking Asian kid (Justin Chon, 21 & Over) to spout things like, “I gotta take a deuce from the caboose!” He also farts.

So many scenes from The Breakfast Club pop up that Detention practically qualifies as a remake: group pot-smoking, running through the hallways, crawling through the ventilation system. In updating that film, however, debuting director Alex Craig Mann has scrubbed away all vestiges of wit and humor; his idea of a recurring gag is to keep spraying blood on the costume of the cheerleader (Christa B. Allen, TV’s Revenge). Ha-ha?

Worse than being unfunny is that it’s dreadfully boring.

Unfortunately, The Demented is only a hair better, and it doesn’t have to lean on crass jokes. Instead, in its attempt at being a straight-up horror movie, it reaches for the ol’ “college kids traveling together to a remote locale for the weekend” approach.

Usually, when that happens, a machete-wielding maniac stands on the other side. In fact, I kind of wish there were one, just to liven things up. We get a horde of zombies, which keeps the pool-partying couples inside the summer home — oh, the humanity! — while all hell breaks loose outdoors.

Before the shoe-shufflers show up, danger comes in the form of a very rabid dog. And before that, all the students know is that the Gulf Coast is under a terrorist attack, the chems of which turn the dead into the undead.  

Freshman writer/director Christopher Roosevelt accurately depicts how these young people would react in such a situation: basically like they would any other day, in that they’d be self-absorbed in their own invented drama over stolen boyfriends and other petty issues. They’re so me-me-me, you’ll root for their safe haven to be penetrated as much as you’ll long for 92 minutes to be over and done with. —Rod Lott

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