Apparently it's getting really difficult to find living space in the densely-populated land of Hong Kong. Even for those with the ways and means, a high-end apartment can be a tough thing to lock down -- which makes things doubly hard for poor, young Sheung (Josie Ho), who is barely balancing multiple jobs while taking care of her ailing father. The unhappy lass is also deeply psychotic, consistently sociopathic, and truly gifted with sharp objects.
Perhaps best described as a classy slasher flick with a rather novel narrative structure, Pang Ho-Cheung's looks like a million bucks ... which makes it all the more disconcertingly entertaining when the film swings from domestic tragedy to astoundingly enthusiastic gore-fest without missing a beat. The lead performance by Ms. Ho is the spine of the film; even as she struggles through multiple jobs and numerous disappointments at the bank and the leasing office -- we can still sense a maniac just beneath the skin. Nobody else can see it, of course, which makes the woman's lunacy all the more, well, enjoyable.
Dream Home bounces, subtly and effectively, between current day and the formative moments in Sheung's past, and instead of yet another tale of "abuse begets abuse," Pang Ho-Cheung uses his gory horror story as a platform for basic but insightful social commentary. Dream Home digs further than a woman seeking a fancy status symbol (although that is part of it), and dives into the psychology of nostalgia, obsession, and the need for a private shelter in an overpopulated world. Of course there's no reason you couldn't just enjoy Dream Home as a surprisingly high-end slasher exploit, but there's a big batch of interesting ideas tucked inside the flick.
Dream Home is the sort of import that the genre fans should try to champion. Not because it's almost mercilessly gory, but because it packages some really interesting ideas (and some truly impressive filmmaking prowess; it's shot like a dream, for example) into a full-bore horror film that works just as well on the surface as beneath. Pang Ho-Cheung has bounced around numerous genres over the past ten years; here's hoping he sticks with the horror fare for a little while.