Fantasia Festival Review: Detention

Between 1949 and 1987 there was a period of political oppression in Taiwan which was dubbed the ‘White Terror’. This span of marital law saw a continuous crackdown on freedom of speech and literature which promoted ‘dangerous ideals’. Over one hundred thousand Taiwanese and Chinese immigrants were imprisoned during this time. Schools and universities were particularly targeted. The ghosts return in John Hsu’s Detention.

Set in Taiwan during 1962, oppression is rife in Tsuihua Secondary School. Despite the close scrutiny of the military police, Professor Zhang (Meng-Po Fu) runs an underground book club for a select few students. He does this with the aid of another teacher, Professor Ying (Cecilia Choi). Fang’s (Gingle Wang) way of escaping her violent homelife is to immerse herself in the group. She becomes obsessed with Zhang and being with him becomes everything. Until he’s gone.

Based on the popular video game of the same name, Detention is an eerie horror which conjures up the ghosts of the past and tells their story. There’s nothing more terrifying than the indignities and outrages humans can inflict on each other. Although it’s at times a little confusing, Hsu’s film manages to conjure-up the terror and paranoia of the times. Detention brings the victims’ memories to life.

Detention screened at Fantasia Festival.

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