Subjects: Asian Studies, Human Rights, Narrative Feature
We’re in 1962 Taiwan, during the time of the White Terror, with martial law in full force on the island. In this time of extreme repression, all ideas considered to be dissident are banned, and the culprits are tortured or executed.
Tsuihua Secondary School is not an exception from this oppression. Despite close surveillance by the military police, Professor Chang (Fu Meng-Po) runs an underground literary club where he and his students learn about banned books and dream of freedom. One of his club members, Fang (Gingle Wang) is madly in love with him. The usually shy teenage girl from an abusive home manages to open up like a book in his presence. Then Chang disappears...
One night, Fang wakes up at her desk, but the school has changed. As she wanders through the sinister corridors and other dilapidated rooms in search of her teacher, she meets Wei (Tse Jing-Hua). Together, they must confront the ghosts and deformed monsters that have taken over their alma mater, to find out what happened there.
Adapted from the eponymous video game, this masterful debut from director and co-writer John Hsu creates an at once a shocking historical drama, a melancholy coming-of-age tale and a nightmarish horror film; that recalls the best of Guillermo del Toro (The Devil's Backbone and Pan's Labyrinth), and with enough blood, striking sound design, art direction and special effects to evoke the best of Silent Hill. Based on true events.
2020 Official Selection at the International Film Festival Rotterdam and 5 category Winner at the 2019 Golden Horse Awards
“It’s more about reckoning with Taiwan’s past and examining how an authoritarian society can force people to make impossible choices. In gaming terms, this movie’s characters find themselves on a screen where every move leads to a bottomless pit. The nightmare they’re in is as existential as it is visceral. – Los Angeles Times
About the filmmaker
John Hsu is a Taiwanese film director. His debut feature film Detention, was based on the video game of the same name. It was nominated for twelve prizes at the 56th Golden Horse Awards and won five, including Best Adapted Screenplay, shared by Fu Kai-ling and Chien Shih-keng. Hsu also won Best New Director.