Director: Pang Lai Sheung
Screenplay: Pang Ho-Cheung, Derek Tsang & Jimmy Wan
Starring: Josie Ho, Eason Chan, Derek Tsang, Lawrence Chou, Michelle Ye, Sinn Lap Man
Country: China/Hong Kong
Running Time: 96 mins
BBFC Classification: 18
As a child Cheng Lai-Sheung could see Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour from her parent’s apartment, but over the years the old buildings in front of her family home were demolished by greedy land developers (with the help of the Triads) to make way for a huge residential project that now blocks her cherished view as a grown-up (played by Josie Ho).
Cheng had vowed to save enough money for a new apartment with a fantastic sea view and now works two full-time jobs, and even a part-time job. However, no matter how hard she toils away she cannot earn enough to match the ever-increasing value of Hong Kong’s very pricey real estate. With her father terminally ill and his medical bills escalating rapidly, because he messed up his health insurance claim some time ago, she finds herself having to make a momentous decision that takes her down an extreme route in order to make her plans of having her ‘dream home’ come true.
The momentous decision is her letting her father die in front of her so she can cash in the life insurance policy that he did get right, and her extreme actions consist of Cheng taking fate by the scruff of its neck and forcing the issue when she goes on a killing spree within the building she wants to set up home in, once it becomes obvious that the insurance pay-out won’t be enough to pay the deposit that she needs to claim her desired luxury apartment.
I first saw Dream Home some time ago at a horror film festival and, like most of the rest of the audience, was impressed by the original story-line, which is apparently based on a true story, the gorgeous photography, really apt music and, in particular, by the performance of the lead actress, Josie Ho. The star/producer of the film is truly excellent in the lead role and even though her later actions are despicable you can’t help having some sympathy for her and kind of want her to get away with her heinous crimes. And they are heinous… To say the kills in this film are brutal is the understatement of the year. Cheng really loses the plot towards the end of the film and ends up taking out a whole ‘gaggle’ of partying teens just because they were making too much noise!
If you enjoyed the Category III Hong Kong films of old then this flick is for you since the blood really does run red, deep red, and the violence is nasty with a capital N. However, there is a real sense of both melancholy and black humour running throughout the film, which is an interesting mix for sure and gives this horror film a lot more depth than most. In fact I would say that my favourite scenes within the film were the very sweet scenes involving Cheng as a young girl and her friend, a boy from the other block of flats (that later gets demolished) and their attempts to talk to each other using a piece of string and two plastic cups…
Dream Home has been released on Blu-Ray and DVD and is being distributed by Network Distributing. Extras include a trailer that makes the film out to be a slasher film, which it isn’t, a ten minute interview with star Josie Ho, where she demonstrates her excellent English skills and we discover that she co-produced the film, and an image gallery featuring approximately 50 stills from the film.