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Dustin Putman

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Dream Home  (2011)
3 Stars
Directed by Pang Ho-cheung.
Cast: Josie Ho, Michelle Ye, Eason Chan, Lawrence Chou, Norman Chu, Hee Ching Paw, Kwok Cheung Tsang, Lap-Man Sin.
2011 – 96 minutes
Not Rated: (equivalent of NC-17 for pervasive brutal bloody violence and sexual content).
Reviewed by Dustin Putman, February 28, 2011.
The cutthroat real estate market in China and the impending financial crisis of 2008 are grounds for ruthess serial murder in "Dream Home," a merciless, at times horrifyingly savage slasher film directed by Pang Ho-cheung. Josie Ho (2009's "Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li") does well in the tricky, alternately sympathetic and despicable role of Sheung, a young phone rep for Jetway Bank whose additional two part-time jobs are still not enough for her to be able to afford the harbor view flat in the Victoria Bay district of Hong Kong that she has dreamt about owning since she was little. That she is also unable to provide for her family—her beloved mother died a few years ago, while her father is suffering from lung disease pneumoconiosis—only adds fuel to her fire. With less than an hour until the clock strikes October 31, 2007, Sheung sets off on a bloodbath within the apartment high-rise, her ultimate motive not exactly what many viewers will be expecting.

"Dream Home" is a ghastly, disturbing and, in its depiction of a person who can't seem to get ahead in a competitive, unforgiving economic climate, surprisingly melancholy horror show. Unspooling out of sequence for a reason, with Sheung's killing spree interlaced with the telling of the events that have led her to such drastic measures, the film does not condone her actions, but does show how someone could be pushed in such an extreme direction. Indeed, Sheung has a passable apartment as it is, but her obsession with moving up in status turns her into a monster who will stop at nothing to get what she thinks she deserves.

With a charcoal-black sense of humor running underneath the slaughter, "Dream Home" devises several gore-drenched set-pieces that director Pang Ho-cheung masterfully tackles. A broken bottle is jammed into someone's neck and gradually filled with blood, a wooden board is stabbed down another person's throat, a security guard is faced with an awful decision or die from strangulation, and, in the creepiest scene, a pregnant woman is suffocated with a storage bag and vacuum. Think that's the height of the carnage? Think again. "Dream Home" may only be for the strong of stomach, but horror fans will be elated with what could be the bravest slasher effort of the last couple years.

© 2011 by Dustin Putman
Dustin Putman