Director: John Hsu Run Time: 102 min. Format: DCP Release Year: 2019 Language: Chinese
Starring: Gingle Wang, Jing-Hua Tseng
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DETENTION is set in Taiwan of 1962, midway through the White Terror – one of the longest and most brutal periods of martial law in modern history. It is a time of extreme political repression, when those accused of spreading dissident ideas may be tortured or executed. Sadly, the students and teachers at Tsuihua Secondary School are not exempt from oppression. One night, after a police raid and the disappearance of one of their teachers, Fang (Wang) a shy girl with a violent home life, and Wei (Tseng), a charismatic member of an underground book club, find themselves mysteriously back at school. But it’s not the way they remember it. Tsuihua is now a dilapidated mess and frightening apparitions haunt the halls. Together, Fang and Wei must confront the ghosts and deformed monsters that have taken over the school, to find out what happened there.
At once a shocking historical drama, a melancholy coming-of-age tale, and a terrifying horror film, DETENTION was showered with awards at the Taipei Golden Horse Awards. In a masterful debut feature reminiscent of Pan’s Labyrinth and The Devil’s Backbone, director and co-writer John Hsu creates a phantasmagoric metaphorical fantasy from a tragic historical context. DETENTION’s striking sound effects, sinister art direction, and disturbing special effects also evoke Silent Hill, the legendary ‘survival horror’ video game series. With a compelling story and a touching performance by lead actress Gingle Wang, emotion meets terror in this nightmarish horror drama that will haunt you for a long time.
“Forgiveness and remembrance are intertwined in this powerful story. An apt heir to [Guillermo] del Toro at his most analytical, it’s a stirring political fable dressed in the ghoulish weaves of a creepy monster flick.” – Richard Whittaker, Austin Chronicle