DETENTION (2019) Reviews and overview of Taiwanese horror



Detention is a 2019 Taiwanese supernatural horror film and an adaption of the video game of the same name created by Red Candle Games.

Directed by John Hsu – making his feature debut – from a screenplay co-written with Shih-Keng Chien and Lyra Fu [as Kai-Ling Fu].

The movie stars Gingle Wang, Meng-Po Fu, Jing-Hua Tseng, Cecilia Choi, Hung Chang Chu and Yue-Ti Liu.


In 1962 Taiwan during the White Terror martial law period, Fang Ray Shin, a female student at the hillside Greenwood High School is attending counselling with teacher Mr Chang, and they gradually fall in love.

It was a dangerous period where sensitive books were banned and free speech was restricted, but Mr Chang secretly organised a study group for banned books, together with fellow teacher Miss Yin and male student Wei Chong Ting…


” …it’s incredibly difficult to capture the feeling of playing and a lot of the plots are ripped from horror movies to begin with, but in the case of Detention, the historical, politically charged story is good enough to transcend its original medium. It’s a little unfortunate then that the supernatural side of it hasn’t been translated quite as successfully.” Bloody Disgusting

“The narrative jumps around the timeline a lot; this serves to heighten the intrigue and keep the story propelling at a reasonable pace. It also offers little respite from all the horrible things happening everywhere. At times though, the to-and-fro does get a little tedious, but for the most part, it works.” The Hollywood News


“Intricately weaving its mystery plot with the backdrop of White Terror adds a decidedly different flavor to its terrors […] Even if I did not love every development of the plot, I have to admire a movie that takes as many risks as this one does […] My favorite moment in the film is a lengthy chase scene with the Lantern Spectre. His mirror-face is the stuff of nightmares.” Josh at the Movies

Detention is a fairly slick, well-executed, topical horror film along the lines of films like Guillermo Del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth or Issa López’s Tigers Are Not Afraid. While it’s perhaps not as effective as those in terms of communicating the real-world horrors that inspired it, it’s a noble effort that does well to entertain while respecting the tragic roots of its story.” Screen Anarchy

” …the absorbing and entertaining Detention works well enough as a primer on a traumatic period of history, and as a story of semi-supernatural salvation for sins past, that it earns its surprisingly moving final moments, and even its heavily on-the-nose exhortation to modern-day Taiwan to remember and honor its ghosts.” Variety

Cast and characters:

Gingle Wang … Fang Ray-Shin
Meng-Po Fu … Chang Ming-Hui
Jing-Hua Tseng … Wei Chong-Ting (as Chin-Hua Tseng)
Cecilia Choi … Yin Cui-Han
Hung Chang Chu … Inspector Bai
Yue-Ti Liu … Mr Kao
Pen-yu Chang … Fang’s Mother (as Jessie Chang)
Ching-Ting Hsia … Fang’s Father
Chung-Yueh Yun … Old Wei Zhong-Ting
Chin-Yu Pan … Sheng
Kuan-yi Lee … Wen-Xiong
Moon Lee … Zhou Xin
Ko-Yuan Wang … Huang You-Xin

Technical details:

105 minutes

Original title:

返校 aka Fanxiao


MOVIES and MANIA rating:

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