Dir: Pang Ho-cheung. Hong Kong. 2010. 96mins
Social commentary and the slasher genre make for interesting bedfellows in Dream Home, director Pang Ho-cheung’s blood-spattered look at the excesses of the Hong Kong housing market.
With its clever packaging and slasher credentials, the film will be grossing out viewers on the festival circuit and home video markets for some time to come.
Although the film makes its point with regard to runaway prices and the squeezing of the middle class, Dream Home’s outlandishly staged murder sequences and scenes of bodily mutilation tilt it decidedly into genre territory. With its clever packaging and slasher credentials, the film will be grossing out viewers on the festival circuit and home video markets for some time to come.
The film’s one fully-developed character is Cheng Lai-sheung (Josie Ho), a humourless woman who grew up in a poor neighborhood across the street from a luxury apartment complex. Struggling to care for an ill father, her one motivating ambition is to buy an apartment with a view of Hong Kong Harbour. However even working multiple jobs, her savings cannot keep up with rapidly escalating house prices, and she decides to bring down the price of her dream home by murdering her future neighbours.
Pang starts the film with the opening salvo in Cheng’s killing spree, and then intersperses flashbacks throughout to fill in the protagonist’s back story. This makes for a complicated dynamic in terms of audience sympathies, as a natural tendency to identify with Cheng in the flashbacks is rubbed out by genuine horror at what she does to her victims, which include a pregnant woman.
Josie Ho in the lead role is focused but a bit wooden, which lessens the potential impact of the flashbacks. Nonetheless Pang’s direction is tight and cinematography by Yu Lik-wai is unobtrusively effective.
Production company: Making Film
International sales: Fortissimo Films, www.fortissimo.nl
Producers: Pang Ho-cheung, Subi Liang, Conroy Chan, Josie Ho
Screenplay: Pang Ho-cheung, Derek Tsang, Jimmy Wan
Cinematography: Yu Lik-wai
Production designer: Man Lim-chung
Music: Gabriele Roberto
Main cast: Josie Ho, Eason Chan, Paw Hee-ching, Norman Chu, Derek Tsang, Lawrence Chou, Michelle Ye, Juno Mak