Hong Kong horror Dream Home (2010) tells the story of single professional Cheng Li-sheung (Josie Ho), who grows up in an area that isn’t worth a great amount, with dreams and hopes of one day owning a harbour-view apartment. Despite working two jobs and countless hours, the dream always seems just out of reach.
However, through pure dedication, perseverance and hard work (and some slightly dodgy deals), she finally gets the money together. Unfortunately for Cheng, the housing market crashes and the owners of her must-have home hike the asking price up out of her reach. So, how can one lady get the price of a harbour-view apartment to come crashing down? She goes on a murderous rampage.
Director Ho-Cheung Pang said in an interview upon the film’s release that, “if Hong Kong is an island surrounded by sea and harbours, why is the price of a sea and harbour view apartment so damn high?” and that satirical thought process carries over into this ultra-violent gore fest. The underlying themes of one persons struggle to keep their head above financial waters will resonate with many people in the UK who are trying to buy a home – however I do hope that those who connect with this film on that level don’t go to the lengths that our protagonist does.
Dream Home certainly doesn’t pull its punches when it comes to the violence and gore. Pretty much every scene of murder makes the Saw and Hostel movies seem like a walk in the park with the Care Bears in comparison. Even me, who is a die-hard fan and lover of the horror genre and all the bloodshed that comes with it, winced at several moments in the film. That’s not to say it is violent for the sake of being violent, like the Saw and Hostel franchises, Dream Home has a dark comedy element which does often make the kills seem lighter than they really are. This is juxtaposed however with some of the more cringe worthy kills – the most disturbing of which involves a heavily pregnant woman. This can make the film feel unbalanced at times, which often left me confused as to how how I should be reacting to deaths.
What makes Dream Home
an interesting film is that it tries to justify Cheng’s actions through a series of flashbacks that tell her story. Throughout the film we are given glimpses into her childhood and upbringing that help to explain not only why she goes on this killing spree, but why she wants the apartment in the first place. These are often heavy handed and really don’t pull of what they were intended to do.
At the end of the day, Cheng is not a sympathetic character. She is someone who is obsessed with one goal in life and she takes that obsession to horrific levels. This method of inter-splicing the flashbacks with the slashing spree does break the action somewhat and it gives the audience a moment to breathe, but it’s never resolved to a point where Cheng’s actions are justifiable – which is where the film falls down.
But is the film any good? Well, it sort of is. It’s not a master piece by any stretch of the imagination, but the kills are very inventive, the special effects are for the most part outstanding (aside from the few dodgy digital effects) and the acting from lead Josie Ho is very good. My main gripe with the film is the poor storytelling and character motivations – both of which seem to play second fiddle to the all out gore fest.
If you are a film viewer of a weak disposition, this is most certainly not the film for you. If, however, you are someone who just wants to see some very elaborate and well orchestrated death scenes and are quite happy to bypass story and plot to get to them, then Dream Home may just be a worthwhile purchase for your DVD collection.