Dream Home stars Josie Ho as Chang-Lai Sheung, a woman who will let nothing stand between her and her dream property, even if it means killing a few innocents along the way. Chang-Lai goes on a killing spree in the building she wants to live in to drive prices down to a rate she deems affordable.
Ho-Cheung Pang serves as the film’s director and as a co-writer of the screenplay. He succeeds on both levels. The script is airtight. It’s creative, devilishly satirical, and brings to life a colorful cast of characters. His directorial vision is brilliantly executed. Pang is able to work with his cast to craft performances that are both wickedly humorous and genuinely inspired.
Josie Ho was the perfect choice to play does lead. There are very few actors that could have pulled off this role with the sadistic zeal that she did. Not only does Ho play the role with the perfect amount of maniacal zest, she is also able to remind the audience that the film is to be taken as satire and not as glorification of ultra violence. There is plenty of carnage on display in this picture but it’s not meant to be carnage for the sake of carnage, nor is it intended to be interpreted as torture cinema. The despicable acts Chang-Lai Sheung commits are intended to comment on the impact that the recession had on the global economy and the self-serving tendencies inherent to human nature.
The film is innovative in a variety of ways. It is among the best pictures to see release in 2011. Dream Home is one of the first horror features to satirize the economic downturn that was in full swing at the time it was made. It’s also one of the first and only slasher pictures to feature a female killer and tell the story from her perspective. Dream Home also deserves much credit for going for the gusto. Not only does it feature a female killer, that female killer is more vicious and calculating than nearly any male horror film character in recent memory.
In terms of pacing, the film goes off like an atomic bomb and it never slows down for more than a moment. We get a bit of back-story about Chang-Lai but the focus soon turns back to her diabolical plan to move into her dream dwelling.
The effects in Dream Home are exceptional. They are all done practically, as far as I can tell and they are painstakingly realistic. Several scenes in the film actually made me squeamish the first time I watched it. But this is the type of film that bears watching more than once for several reasons. After the initial shock value has worn off, one can develop a deeper appreciation for what is beneath the surface. The film has multiple layers and new depth can be found in repeat viewings.
Dream Home is also noteworthy for featuring a terrific soundtrack. Many of the kill scenes play out in concert with contemporary rock accompaniment, which conjures memories of early Argento. However, that is one of very few things that resembles anyone else’s work. Pang Ho-cheung’s film is brimming with original ideas and really plays by its own set of rules.
If you haven’t seen Dream Home, you must check it out. It features killer effects, and it is brilliantly cast and expertly directed. Dream Home is now on DVD. If you haven’t seen it, I would suggest just picking it up. It’s that good.