Year of release: 2010
Director: Edmond Pang
Action director: Chin Kar-Lok
Producers: Conroy Chan, Josie Ho, Leung Kai Yun, Pang Ho Cheung
Writers: Edmond Pang, Derek Tsang, Jimmy Wan
Cinematography: Nelson Yu
Editing: Wenders Li
Music: Gabriele Roberto
Stars: Josie Ho, Eason Chan, Michelle Ye, Norman Chu, Lawrence Chou, Nina Pau, Derek Tsang, Lo Hoi Pang, Felix Lox, Juno Mak
Rated III for violence, language, nudity, sexual situations, and drug use
Movie Review Index
A real-life real estate crunch might not sound like prime inspiration material for a horror movie, but with Edmond Pang's 2010 slasher picture Dream Home, the economic crisis puts down a base for a production that revels in, and takes full advantage of, its' Category III rating, resulting in one of the better films to come out of Hong Kong over the past couple of years.
In the movie, Josie Ho (who also co-produced the film through her company, 852 Films) plays Cheng Lai-Sheung, a young woman who works menial call center and retail jobs in an attempt to save up enough to afford the down payment on a posh condo. When the price tag becomes too high, she decides to drive down the value by killing people in the building.
During the beginning credits, Dream Home says that it is based on a true story. However, unlike the Category III "true crime" pictures that were popular in Hong Kong during the early 1990's, this film isn't based on any incident in particular, but uses issues affecting current Hong Kongers as the impetutus for the story. As Edmond Pang said in an interview on JoBlo: "It's the truth that many people would like to buy a flat in Hong Kong. But the plot and killing scenes are fictitious."
At any rate, with Dream Home, Edmond Pang has created a rarity in the world of cinematic horror: a smart slasher film. Much of this credit has to go towards Josie Ho, who does a wonderful job with her character, creating someone that is both sympathetic and terrifying at the same time. It's the sort of role that could have easily gone into the realm of exaggerated histrionics, but Ho's understated mannerisms make Cheng Lai-Sheung into a complete character, not just a rampaging psychopath.
As good as Josie Ho's performance is, it is really the portrayal of the "naughty bits" which truly sets Dream Home apart. In this day and age where PG-13 seems to be the de facto rating and intent for most horror movies, having a film that knows that showing gore isn't a bad thing was really refreshing. And, even though this is one of the more violent films to come out recently, Edmond Pang also shows some restraint, not going down the "torture porn" road, which makes the scenes that do feature bloodshed all that more jarring.
It has been said by many that Hong Kong cinema is dead. While the region's cinematic output might very well be on life support at this time, with the number of films brought to audiences being a fraction of what was coming out during the "golden age", movies like Dream Home, that are produced by smaller companies with original ideas and a determination to thrill the viewers instead of simply toeing the status quo, shows that there might yet still be some life yet contained behind the jade screen.