Splatter meets subtext in this fairly ambitious Hong Kong offering from director Ho Cheung-Pang and producer-star Josie Ho.
What would you be willing to do to secure your perfect dream home? Sheung (Josie Ho) is prepared to kill, repeatedly and graphically, as she slaughters her way through the inhabitants of the Hong Kong apartment block in which her ideal residence is located. DREAM HOME isn't 96 minutes of ultra-violence, however. In between the deaths we get to see flashbacks explaining how Sheung ended up in this situation. Working for a bank in the daytime, she also works an evening job at a shop to help repay her debts and save for the flat of her dreams. The flat just happens to be located in a plush apartment block opposite the rundown tenement where she currently shares a room with her brother. With their parents they grew up in slums which were demolished to make way for the kind of over-priced housing she now wants to live in.
There's a heavy political and socio-cultural edge to DREAM HOME, but it never gets in the way of the story. The opening caption puts into context the vast gulf between housing prices in Hong Kong and the average working wage, and numerous references are made to the banking and credit card systems that are designed to keep people in debt. Nobody is happy, everyone seems to be having joyless affairs, or is on drugs. Teenagers indulge in empty, meaningless, drug-fuelled group sex, and everybody seems to be using somebody else for their own selfish reasons. No more is this lifestyle typified than by its cental character, who is willing to let others die (including her own family) to fulfil her materialistic dream. The film ends with hints of financial crashes to come, and the suggestion that despite all her extreme efforts, Sheun may still not be able to have what she wants.
Of course, you don't have to watch DREAM HOME for its barely-concealed subtext. It's also a rollickingly entertaining splatter movie, with a number of creative deaths, some seriously cringe-inducing moments, and a healthy sense of knockabout humour to some of the gore sequences. In fact, if there's any criticism to be levelled at DREAM HOME it's that Sheung's final bloody rampage is almost too popcorn-movie-entertaining when compared to the lengthy and serious backstory we finally become party to. It's a minor quibble, though. DREAM HOME is a pretty decent stab (sorry) at a splatter movie with subtext, which isn't something we get to see a lot of.
Network's new Blu-ray release makes all the gloss of yuppified Hong Kong look extra shiny. You also get an interview with star and producer Josie Ho and a trailer.
Network are releasing Ho-Cheung Pang's DREAM HOME on Region B Blu-ray on 25th May 2015