Friday, October 8, 2021

Ominous October - Detention (2019)

Movie Name/Year: Detention (2019)
Genre: Horror, Mystery, Thriller  
Length: 102 minutes
Rating: Unrated
Production/Distribution: 1 Production Film, Filmagic Pictures Co., Gamania Digital Entertainment Company, Kaohsiung Film Fund, Lots Home Entertainment, Taichung Film Development Foundation, Truffe Holdings, Warner Bros. Pictures, Yi Tiao Long Hu Bao International Entertainment Company, Warner Bros., Mandarin Vision, Challan, Dekanalog, Encore Films, Golden Screen Cinemas, Golden Village Pictures, Mandarin Motion Pictures Distribution, Pop Entertainment, Twin Co. Ltd.
Director: John Hsu
Writer:  Shih-Keng Chien, Lyra Fu, John Hsu
Actors: Gingle Wang, Meng-Po Fu, Jing-Hua Tseng, Cecilia Choi, Hung Chang Chu, Yue-Ti Liu, Pen-yu Chang, Ching-Ting Hsia, Chung-Yueh Yun, Chin-Yu Pan, Kuan-yi Lee, Moon Lee, Ko-Yuan Wang
Blurb from IMDb: 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 were restricted, but Mr. Chang secretly organized a study group for banned books, together with fellow teacher Miss Yin and male student Wei Chong Ting.

Selina’s Point of View:
Detention was released in other countries, and made festival rounds, before – but it’s finally getting released in the USA on October 8. The moment I became aware of that, I was all over getting my hands on a copy. Sure, it’s great for Ominous October – but I was excited about it because I loved the game.
Don’t roll your eyes.
I know that the majority of gamers reading this just got a bad taste in their mouth when they realized Detention is a film based on video game. The rest might just be reading this to see how bad the adaptation is. If you’re looking for negative feedback, though, you’re in the wrong place.
Detention was the best video game movie I have ever seen. Not only that, it took over the top spot as the best horror flick of the year, in my opinion.
I’m unfamiliar with the work of director John Hsu (Your Spiritual Temple Sucks, After Dark, Intoxicant). It’s not all that surprising, since this is his first full-length feature credit. The movie I just watched, however, was not the work of a new director. Without doing any research, I would have guessed he had an IMDb page that put anyone else to shame.
Anything he puts out in the future, I’m going to be all over. I’m talking midnight showings, screener opportunities, etc. If his first full-length movie is this good, I can’t imagine what his work is going to look like as his career progresses.

Not only was the flick good. Even more surprisingly, it was a good adaptation. Fans should be happy with what they see.
I’ll grant that it wasn’t a shot-for-shot recreation. Honestly, I’d be upset if it was. What would have been the point of watching it, if it had been? That said, I’m a gamer and I know my finicky people, so let’s start there.
That said, it still stuck so incredibly close to Detention the game that there were some scenes that looked absolutely identical. The differences that were obvious, were for the better. Those alterations meant that the film explained more, erased some of the ambiguity, and left it on a more satisfying note than the original story did.
Of course, the game does have more than one conclusion, so take the latter difference with a grain of salt. I only played for one of the endings.
Detention also concentrated a bit more on Wei than the game did. The fact that they managed to do that without sacrificing any part of Fang’s story was insane. I’m completely baffled as to how they accomplished that.
There’s not a whole lot more for me to say. Detention is my favorite horror movie of the year. In fact, it’s pretty high on my ‘all-time’ list. If you have the chance to see it, definitely go for it.

Cat’s Point of View:
If I had to describe Detention in three words, they would be: heartbreaking, terrifying, and amazing. That pretty much distills my experience with this movie into its bare essence. I was creeped out, I went on a whole rollercoaster of emotions, and I loved every minute of it. 
Detention was based on a video game of the same name. While I haven’t personally played it, I have enjoyed the game vicariously through watching Jacksepticeye play through it on his streaming channel. The game is gorgeous and well-done with interesting artwork and puzzles…and the same horrifyingly sad plot. That being said, if you’re familiar with the video game, there aren’t going to be a lot of surprises for you in the movie. Detention’s film adaptation is fairly true to its source material. Knowing what’s happening didn’t take away from the pulse-pounding experience for me, however.
It’s one thing to witness the 2D game experience – even with its immersive creepy sounds and score – and another entirely to watch the story play out with actual people in the roles. Speaking of which, I have to give some serious kudos to the casting for Detention. Not only did the production team cast excellent actors for the roles, but they also nailed the character aesthetics from the game. 

They translated the creepy backdrop of the school and sundry settings brilliantly to the screen.

I feel the need to shift gears away from the video game aspect and onto the real-world source material behind Detention. The film and game’s setting of 1962 Taiwan is actually pretty scary all on its own. I wasn't aware of how bad things were, or for how long. Either my history classes didn’t cover this post-World War II situation or it’s just been a while and it slipped my mind. (Either is plausible – my mind is occasionally a sieve.) 

The period of time Detention takes place was called the White Terror. Thousands of people were killed or imprisoned during the nearly 40 years of martial law in Taiwan following an incident in February 1947. The martial law lasted until 1987. It feels like something so heinous couldn’t have taken place in the modern era – however, I had to remind myself that the Berlin Wall didn’t come down in Germany until 1989. 
If you set the supernatural aspects of the story aside, the fact that the events in Detention could have feasibly taken place, in reality, is spine-chilling. This sort of scenario is why the current “War on Terror’s” motto of ‘see something, say something’ gives me the creeps.
If you don’t mind the subtitles (and, honestly, this movie was so gripping I forgot I was reading), Detention was a solid horror offering. Blood, jump scares, harrowing moments around every turn, and chilling revelations abound.
I expect a few nightmares after watching Detention. I would absolutely recommend it in a heartbeat to Horror fans looking for something truly scary on multiple levels for this spooky season.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 86%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – None
Metascore – None
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – 6.8/10
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating 5/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating5/5
Trust-the-Dice’s Parental Advisory Rating: R
P.S. Detention, the video game, is available on Steam.
Movie Trailer:

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