‘Detention’: A Clichéd Salute to Freedom

2019 Golden Horse Awards

The News Lens
Date: 2019/11/21
By: Daphne K. Lee

“Have you forgotten or are you scared of remembering?” This eerie quote from the recent Taiwanese horror film Detention (返校) has become a catchphrase among the twentysomethings.

For the younger Taiwanese who never lived through an authoritarian era, they might just use the haunting question to mock their forgetful friends. But it alludes to a traumatic history that’s still relevant today.

Adapted from a survival video game of the same title, Detention is the first feature film directed by John Hsu. The film has received widespread attention for its attempt to explore — or exploit — a highly sensitive topic: Taiwan’s martial law period between 1949 and 1987. It was one of the world’s longest martial law periods, during which hundreds of thousands of Taiwanese were jailed or executed for their alleged opposition to the authoritarian government Kuomintang.

Set in the fictional Greenwood High School in 1962, the first segment of the film, “Nightmare,” opens with a female student, Fang Ray-shin (Gingle Wang), waking up from a nap and finding herself in a ghostly classroom with broken windows and chilling winds. In an act that mimics the original gameplay, Fang lights a red candle that becomes the only light source leading us from one dimly-lit scene to another.    [FULL  STORY]

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