Detention 返校 (2019) - Taiwan
Reviewed by Andrew Chan (Film Critics Circle of Australia)
The hard won freedom of modern Taiwan should not be easily forgotten and the latest horror thriller uses the “White Terror” period of Taiwanese history as a backdrop to depict the true horrors of the period. The period of martial law lasted for more than 38 years and during this period of suppression, countless of Taiwanese people were tortured, imprisoned and killed. New Director John Hsu smartly interweaves the blurring of both genres, creepy high school location, dreamlike sequences and the horrors of the 1960s period to make “Detention” more realistic and chilling than it would have been.
Gingle Wang does an incredible job to sustain a level of suspense and mystery throughout the film. Wang looks innocent enough to provide that victimise backdrop, whilst not overpowering the atmosphere to help create a layer of vulnerability. Fu Meng-po plays the teacher and Wang’s forbidden love interest with good effect, meanwhile Tsing Ching-hua and Cecilia Cho are excellent in their respective student and teacher roles who are also part of the banned underground book club.
All in all, “Detention” is a good chilling and horror psychological thriller that makes full use of its existing premises, backdrop and history to create a rounded film experience. Director Hsu is most certainly one to watch for the future and newcomer Wang is extremely promising in this combined difficult role of mixed emotions required. It’s been a while, since we have watched a decent genre film and this one works well from start to finish.
I rated it 8/10