Follow TV Tropes


Film / Detainment

Go To

Detainment is a 2018 short film (30 minutes) directed by Vincent Lambe.

It is a Based on a True Story account of one of the more disturbing crimes of the latter 20th century, namely, the 1993 murder of a two-year-old boy named James Bulger. Public opinion was shocked when, a week after Bulger was kidnapped from a shopping mall, two ten-year-old boys were arrested for the murder.

The film opens with the two boys, Robert Thompson and Jon Venables, being taken into the police station by the cops, with their parents accompanying them in near hysterics. Thompson is truculent, denying everything; Venables is scared and weepy. Gradually, the police get Thompson and Venables to recount the story of how they snatched up a random toddler, led him on an aimless journey across Liverpool, took him to a railway yard, and beat him to death. As the boys grudgingly tell their story, the kidnapping is shown through a series of flashbacks.



  • Adult Fear: It doesn't come worse than having your two-year-old child kidnapped from the mall and murdered.
  • Based on a True Story: A highly accurate version shot on the actual locations using the actual police interviews. (In Real Life the boys were released from prison after serving eight years. Thompson has apparently lived in anonymity ever since but Venables has twice been imprisoned for possession of child pornography.)
  • Death of a Child: The horrible death of James Bulger at the hands of two 10-year-old boys.
  • Delinquents: Of the worst sort. Before the boys kidnap James, they're shown shoplifting various items out of the mall and getting chased out of one store by a shopowner.
  • Flashback: The kidnapping of Bulger, and the ambling walk down to the rail yard, is shown in a series of flashbacks as the boys are being questioned.
  • Advertisement:
  • Gory Discretion Shot: James Bulger is shown with a bump on his head from the first time the boys hit him. Otherwise none of the violence inflicted on him is shown on camera.
  • Match Cut: From Venables looking around the shopping mall for a victim to Venables shaking his head while being grilled by the police.
  • Shown Their Work: "A true story based on interview transcripts and records." Reportedly the dialogue was taken near-verbatim from actual interviews of Thompson and Venables.
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: Thompson is shown throughout his interview as either sullen or defiant, shouting back at the police, not showing the tiniest bit of remorse. Venables is crying and scared in the way one might expect of a child accused of such a thing—but of course his behavior in committing the murder fits this trope.

Example of: