Dream Home 梦想中的家 (2010) – Hong Kong
Although it gives its leading lady much appreciated back story, and nods toward a seventies and eighties slasher variety of horror cinema (think Sean S. Cunningham’s Friday the 13th), Ho-Cheung Pang’s Dream Home is vile and flimsy and too over the top, still gender biased. It has an interesting premise and beautiful shooting, but shoddy editing and an amateurish execution of script writing makes it another example of what not to do in horror, cheesy when we’re already lactose intolerant.
Still Gender Biased
Sheung (Josie Ho) longs to live in a Hong Kong flat by the sea, just like her once sailor grandfather. But the cost of living in uptown, right by the coast, is expensive. Though she has two jobs and works hard, always finding ways to save a penny and help her family, hopes to finally come home to luxury, to peace and quietness, are expiring.
When ready to call it quits, she discovers an elderly couple putting their apartment up for sale at a reasonable rate, exactly where she wants to live, and she makes arrangements to purchase it, money together–somehow increased from her pinched pennies before. When she’s late for meeting them though, preoccupied with other things, they change their minds. It’s not for sale anymore, and our leading lady snaps, ready to make a mess of all the kinds of people who’ve caused her dilemmas in her past.
Based on true events, this bloody Sheung act of violence and vengeance that follows an artful back and forth timeline dance, to learn of her past, is definitely showy, run of the mill, and magnified. I soon expected innovation to come of its writing a strong leading lady, like Halloween’s Laurie Strode in 1978. But what comes of her actions, very repressed and exaggerated, is awkward and awful, not what you’d expect and too messy. Just see what comes of a one Ikea coffee table and a cheating man’s neck.
Its needing to tell us of the crashing real estate market of 2007 and 2008 for character motivation adds to the fire. Even if it seems innocent enough, that little addition, you soon know is a stretch so as to accommodate a fleeting fright fest that doesn’t really frighten.
It is an extremely pretty picture. I give it that. But it’s only partially beautiful, when Sheung isn’t wearing her father’s tool belt of hammers and chisels and screwdrivers for her personal rampage, grim excess. You’d gag rather than shudder, and it’s a shame. That one Drowning Pool song comes to mind though: “Let the Bodies Hit the Floor,” and you see it’s all rather silly, however dark, us bobbing our heads to its beat, a kill-flashback-kill pattern to come of the narrative.
If it’s humor it’s going for it only slightly works. There’s a one scene when a stoner guy, young and reckless, has his belly cut open. The guts fall to the ground with a loud, delayed plopping sound. He’s pale and out of breath, but still of the strength to find time to take a drag of his roach. Right on man, cool, death. Hmm.
And even if I like what Ho-Cheung Pang does to teach us a little of Hong Kong family culture, it’s not touchy to the point to draw you in nor is it revealing. Its two hours are too long, and some say it is brave. Right. I say, if you need a real scare–really truly are desperate–you’re better off reading the original newspaper publishing of the ‘based on true events’ story. Smudged ink on fingertips and paper-cuts, now at least that’s scary; realer.