“As long as someone’s alive, there is always hope.” During the Cold War in 1962, Taiwan was under martial law, where those who subverted the government by speaking out about freedom or reading banned books that contained Communist or left-wing thoughts would face harsh punishment, sometimes even death. In John Hsu’s Detention, a film adaptation of a popular horror game, two high school students, Fang Ray-Shin (Gingle Wang) and Wei Chong-Ting (Jing-Hua Tseng) find themselves trapped within a nightmare on their school campus, where the mystery surrounding what became of their friends and teachers is slowly uncovered as they try to escape.

Detention succeeds in a lot of ways, such as the masterful editing from Shieh Meng-ju that allows the story to unravel in a way that always keeps the viewer on the edge of their seat, as well as a beautiful score by Lu Luming. However, the most important aspect of Detention is its message of hope. There is a scene where golden sunlight is shining in through a window, as students meet at school in secret; and this light continues even in the dark contrast of the rest of the film, in the form of a candle. It’s this light throughout which stands for hope, and the poignancy of it is felt even in the face of a seemingly helpless situation, further solidified by the incredible performances from Gingle Wang and Jing-Hua Tseng – two strong forces on screen.

Sure, Detention has its scary moments, but it ends up being a film that has so much more heart than expected. There are powerful visuals that will stick with the viewer, where the horrific nature of the imagery is used to symbolise the reality people faced and critique it.



CAST: Gingle Wang, Meng-Po Fu, Jing-Hua Tseng


WRITERS: John Hsu, Lyra Fu, Shih-Keng Chien

SYNOPSIS: Set in 1962 during Taiwan’s White Terror period, a boy and a girl are trapped alone at their high school.