Dream Home review

SINCE the credit crunch hit almost every country across the globe, one of the biggest victims has been the housing market.

Fewer people have been able to get their foot on the first rung of the mortgage ladder and it’s understandable why some may feel the need to lash out.

That bring us nicely to the premise of Chinese horror Dream Home, from director Ho-Cheung Pang.

As the film begins, stats and figures appear on screen showing viewers the difficulties involved in buying a house in Hong Kong as the annual wage of many barely reaches that of the national average. And so begins and gut-wrenching, eye-popping descent into the madness of home purchasing.

Cheng-Lai Sheung (played by former rock chick Josie Ho) is, funnily enough, a mortgage seller who still lives with her parents but has her eye on a stunning apartment within the Hong Kong harbour.

Working one full-time job and part-time elsewhere, she wants to find the money that will help secure her the home of her dreams – hence the film title.

But just when she thinks she has everything in place to make the move, the current owners of the flat she yearns for shift the goalposts and raise the asking price.

Sheung, stressed out with her life of hard work and caring for her family, finally snaps and all hell breaks loose as the residents of the apartment block suffer from her mental state of blood-letting.

Nothing is out of bounds as Sheung sets about ensuring she can get her foot in the door using whatever comes to hand – be it a screw driver or a domestic hoover. Put it this way, household tools will never be looked at in the same way again.

In flashback mode, we first meet Sheung as she tightens a tie-it around the neck of a security guard within the bowels of the grand building. Immediatley, it’s clear she’s angry about something. But what that is? No-one finds out until later in the tale.

As the guard struggles to find a breath, he pulls a stanley blade from a nearby tool box, but instead of slicing the plastic tie-it, he hacks away at his neck until he severs his jugular. And so the tone is set.

Ho’s character is one that will split opinion among viewers. Through the flashbacks, she’s a family-oriented, proud woman who wants to do the best for her family. Her obsession with harbour-side living stemming from her father, who, earlier in the film, talks of his displeasure at the way the ocean-view from her childhood home would soon disappear due to the number of apartment blocks being built.

However, any feeling of sympathy – or empathy – go flying out the window when she goes on her random killing-spree.

One group of victims have nothing whatsoever to do with the situation, but Sheung doesn’t care as she lets the blood flow in many-a-creative way.

What Pang has created is a satirical look at the housing market in China and the extreme lengths people could go to get their hands on that house of their dreams.

It’s not just sheer horror that we get in Dream Home. There is some adultery and even a light-hearted moment during a flashback between Sheung and her neighbour Jimmy when they were kids. Using tin cans and a length of string to create their own ‘telephones’, they talk to each other at night.

This sweet exchange helps understand Sheung’s pain at the way her home city is developing. So it makes it all the more jarring when she has finally had enough and lets the horrific violence do the negotiating.

It’s suggested Dream Home is based on true events – but that can be taken with a pinch of salt.

What is clear is that Pang has very vivid emotions of what is happening in his country and he has shown it in the most brutal way possible. It’s hard to say Dream Home is enjoyable due to the content, but it’s a film that will stay with you for a long time after viewing.

Visceral, emotional, brutal and satirical, watch it before you, too, find it too much to handle.

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