Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Horror Thoughts ‘12—Dream Home (2010) ***

NR, 96 min.
Director/Writer: Ho-Cheung Pang
Starring: Josie Ho, Eason Chan, Norman Chu, Lawrence Chou, Hee Ching Paw, Kwok Cheung Tsang

I’ve been to Honk Kong. I can understand the dilemma of the protagonist in the HK slasher flick “Dream Home”. Heck, even the dream homes in that high-rise mecca are a closet by some American standards. I can imagine finding a suitable place to live in Hong Kong can be murder.

In “Dream Home” that sentiment is literal. Sheung just wants a nice apartment with a harbor view. She’s worked and saved all her life for such a place, which in HK can run the equivalent of $3200 U.S. dollars a month. Her reasons for wanting such a place were once based in a good heart but have since become lost to her obsession with purchasing such a place to live. She’s willing to do anything to get her place.

“Dream Home” is one of those Asian horror films that find the grotesque and disturbing in the everyday mundane details of life—in this case, that perennial city dweller problem of finding a reasonable place to live.  If you hadn’t guessed, Sheung is willing to murder for her opportunity for an affordable home. Murder might actually seem a lite term for the atrocities that Sheung commits in this film.

In the tradition of all slasher films, “Dream Home” goes out of its way to invent new ways for people to die. The film’s genius comes from the fact that Sheung is not a trained killer, so she’s clumsy. That’s not to say she doesn’t have a knack for it. Trust me, you wouldn’t want to be alone with her in a condo that just had an open house.

Writer/director Pang Ho-Cheung does a great job with the murder sequences. His background scenes on Sheung’s childhood are interesting and well directed, but they don’t hold quite as much power as they promise. We still root for Sheung to pull off her dirty deeds, but in the end we’re left with a hollow feeling, as if we just committed murder for an apartment we didn’t really need in the first place. Maybe that’s just the right feeling for this movie.

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