Notable Cast: Josie Ho
Review: This lesser known slasher from Hong Kong can be attributed to growing real estate costs and a slumping economy, a relatable scenario for most. Dream Home takes the phrase go getter to a totally new level. Asian horror always has a knack for the outrageous, so it was fitting the violence was nothing short of gratuitous. It’s scary how realistic the effects were and how intricate each kill was, going much farther than most simplistic horror. An average viewer has a line where he or she doesn’t want their movie crossing, so of course Dream Home takes that line and sees just how far it can cross it. Warning: some of you will not last the entire film, that I can guarantee.
Cheng Lai Sheung (Ho) has forever dreamed of living in a gorgeous flat with a nice view of the sea. With a declining market and increasing prices though, Cheng’s dream starts to become farther and farther out of reach. Having the exact flat picked out with a price not fitting her two-part time job wages, Cheng tries work with an agent to bring down the astronomical price. When all else fails though, she decides to take matters into her own hands. Her own vicious and bloody hands. In an effort to reduce the price of the flat for sale, Cheng goes on a violent rampage around the building in hopes that the danger would decrease the value of all the flats in the apartment complex. For one night, Cheng delves into a madness driven by her insane obsession with owning the perfect dream home. Little do the other occupants of the apartment building know though that they are the only thing standing between Cheng and her dream, which they find out very quickly. It seems like the perfect plan, if Cheng doesn’t get caught that is.
There is a much greater appreciation for Dream Home than usual Asian horror flicks because it at least coherently sticks to a main plot, something the genre is not particularly known for. For every Ringu there is a Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl, with a nonsensical story and crazy imagery proving nothing short of a grade A mind f@ck. Not to say there isn’t a time and a place for women with machine gun arms or fountains of spurting “blood,” but a movie like Dream Home blends both the dark creativity with gripping insanity, somehow grasping onto shreds of integrity. Dream Home took seemingly recycled slasher kills, but then brought the unique twists in to ramp up the kill to a whole new level. Boundaries? Pshaw. Killing a wife isn’t bad enough? Make her pregnant. Slicing a guy’s stomach open? Let’s seem those intestines. Rolling eyeball on the floor? Let’s squish that little bugger. But then it doesn’t veer off into the insane when you expect it to, instead holding a more serious tone by bringing realism instead of squirting bloody water. The skin crawlingly gruesome kills were viewed in awe, instead of the usual comical reaction of over the top effects. I wasn’t kidding when I said some people won’t be able to last the entire film, having only explained the tamer kills of Dream Home.
As usual we also get a small taste of foreign culture portrayed in Dream Home, not only in commentary on the world economic state. If you notice, every single married man has a mistress. Cheng’s main love interest is a business man who has a family he abandons to be with her. The husband she attacks in the first apartment is only late because he was out with his own mistress. But not only the rampant cheating caught my eye. It was the fact that the wives openly discussed it and the mistresses knew exactly what they were doing. It was just common talk amongst married woman discussing how their men are probably cheating on them like it’s just something that happens. It adds a weird spin on the film where you’re thinking to yourself, “in a society where backstabbing and lying is common place, how do you kill for a house?” Cheating doesn’t cause any crazy obsession, yet owning the perfect home elicits mass murder? For a completely irrelevant story line, it tells a lot about the cultural generalization while subtly adding to the story like you wouldn’t expect.
For the horror nerd, Dream Home is an instant watch. For those with some moral fiber and innocence still in tact, turn away now. A story, creativity, and fresh slayings all found in one movie? Can’t say this happens all too often. The art of the horror film is a vicious beast to master. Horror fans are incredibly hard to please because there are so many different types. You’ve got you’ve average run of the mill horror fans that will jump at anything and just squeal the entire time in the theater, never really knowing what to expect. Or, in other terms, the people you want to punch out in the theater. Then, you have the exhibitionist horror fans who only look for movies that offer the most grotesque and vile images possible, even if there is zero plot or any other cinematic value. Aka the super artsy hipsteres that try to impress others by being different. Then you have the horror fans that aren’t horror fans at all and end up hating every horror film they see except what some critics deemed “classics.” (Sorry, I’ll admit it, not a huge Dario Argento fan.) Dream Home manages to fall somewhere right in the middle of all those demographics, offering some bit of pleasure for every horror fan. Casual goers will have plenty to shriek and gasp at, exploitative fans will have tons of realistically vicious gore to marvel at, and the snobs can actually enjoy a provocative story that danced the line of obscurity and desperation, almost believable enough to buy into. Available via Video on Demand from you local provider, I commend IFC Midnight to getting this film out to a more general public to shock the shit out of them. Go ahead, push you limits. I dare you.
Final Rating: 8 other flats she probably could have bought out of 10