“There are four things you aren’t supposed to do in Hollywood: do a movie about kids, animals, high school, and pay for it yourself,” said Joseph Kahn writer, director, and producer of a film which does all four, Detention. In an exclusive interview with the Technique, Kahn described his motivations and inspirations to make a film that breaks all rules.
The film is primarily a comedic horror film. The plot revolves around several high school teens excluded from prom by detention while a serial killer named “Cinderhella” hunts them down. It also boasts time-traveling bears, parodies of pop culture, teen drama and countless other genres. The multi-faceted film was funded entirely by Kahn.
“The reason I spent all my money on this is because I made the movie I want to see come together, I have to see it, and I would pay millions to see it. So I did,” Kahn said
Kahn is also recognized for his impressive, award-winning work in music videos for an even more impressive and lengthy list of recognized musicians from Dr. Dre to Katy Perry. He said that he knew now was the time to make a film to fill the void in Hollywood created by a lack of intelligent films for the younger generation. He decided that he had to spend all his money to give them such a film. Although the film seems like an amalgam of skewered genres, the rationale behind it provides a sense of structure and meaning to the madness.
“I’m a weird person… yet I know everything about youth culture. I know what kids are going to listen to before even they do. I can see where music, fashion, lyrics and the trends are going six months before the kids do.” Kahn said.
He further explains that he designed the film and its host of pop cultural references to appeal to a wide range of ages.
“If you’re over 30, you’ll get all the 90s references but hardly any of the music references, but if you’re under 30, you’ll get the music and fashion references,” Kahn said.
Regarding genre conventions, Kahn states that the high school setting transcends traditional Hollywood approaches to the scenario.
“The reality is every kid in high school is living in a different genre. Some people live a horror film. Some people live a sexcapade. Some people live a romantic comedy,” Kahn said.
The first version of Detention originally premiered at the South by Southwest Film Festival a year ago.
The film also features Josh Hutcherson, of The Hunger Games fame.
“I take full credit for Josh Hutcherson,” Kahn says. The release of the film was timed with Hutcherson’s work in The Hunger Games purposefully to capitalize on the young star’s reputation.
The cast also includes performances from relative newcomer Shanley Caswell, Spencer Locke (Cougar Town), and stand-up comedian, Dane Cook.
Detention has a tough battle ahead of it, as the film will be going head-to-head with Cabin in the Woods for audiences’ horror-comedy dollars.