Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Notes on Dream Home DVD

Well, I had to clean my face after all that blood and human entrails splattered onto it. Horror movies fans will love Dream Home, as there is plenty of gore in it. As Josie Ho said in the enlightening interview in the extra features of the DVD, they really had fun in piling atrocities on top of another.

“In a crazy city, you have to be even crazier to survive”.

In Hong Kong, a city which has built its economy on real state, dwellings have rocketed in price, making them unaffordable for a large part of its populations. Many people have two jobs just to be able to get along, unless you belong to that minority located at the top of the pile. If you would like to live in an apartment with a sea view, their prices have literally shot through the roof, the cliché being for once appropriate. After the take over by China in the late 80s, hyena developers bullied families who have been living in the sea side for decades to make room for the development of luxury apartments, forcing them out, in collusion with a corrupt city government.

What do you do to be able to afford your dream home, then?

Cheng Lai-Sheung (Hong Kong rock chick turned actress Josie Ho) found the solution. Director and writer Ho-Cheung Pang claims that he based the story on a news report he read in the the papers, simply enhancing it.

Cheng Lai-Sheung, a thirty something woman who works enslaved in the small cubicle of the call centre of a bank, dreams to buy an apartment with a sea view on Victoria Harbour, from where her dad, a former builder dying from a lung disease resulting from years of inhaling asbestos and dust, was expelled during the early 90s. She refuses to go with her work colleagues from the bank for a weekend of fun to Tokyo, as she would spend too quickly the money she has saved to buy her dream home. We follow her getting uncountable rejections as she tries to lure the bank’s customers to buy home loans to people who can hardly afford them – we watch as she and her colleagues discuss these loans during their breaks, knowing very well that most of those who buy them will default, or as she tries to sell expensive Italian luxury fashions in the expensive shop she works during the evenings.

Yet, the building society manager keeps telling her she is still short, that she cannot afford to meet the monthly repayment, in spite that the owners of her dream home are selling it at a reasonable price. After cashing on her father’s life insurance, watch this episode carefully as you could fall from the edge of your seat, she manages to get the money for the deposit, just to find out that the owners have raised the price.

So, what does she do? Simply, to reduce the value of the property, she has to devalue the area where it is located. For that to happen, something really terrible has to taint it. So, Cheng Lai-Sheung makes excellent use of her later father’s tools to strangle the condominium janitor to gain access to the apartments, then proceeding to commit one murder on top of another – a woman who answer the door ends up with a chisel driven through her head until the tip comes out of her eye socket. Atrocity piles onto another and another, each one being more ingenious than the previous one, a kind of grotesque dance ensuing as she slips on the splattered blood.

Keep a bowl nearby, in case you vomit.

We finally see her dreamily looking at the harbour through the window of her dream home, the orgy of blood etched on her battered face, her features slowly changing as the newscaster’s voice on the background radio goes through the litany of the credit crunch woes.

The mise in scène and camerawork adds to Cheng Lai-Sheung’s obsessive intensity and desire, whilst panning over the city’s crowded and claustrophobic streets; the score intelligently raising the pulse on the critical scenes.

Dream Home is more than an intense horror movie which kept my nerves on edge all the time, both Ho-Cheung Pang and Josie Ho had obvious fun on working out a well timed and rhythmic orgy of spilt entrails and pierced brains splattering throughout it, a story made even more frightening because of its proximity to our desire to own a dream home, it also casts a sharp eye over the absurdity and corruption of not only Hong Kong property market, but also over a society in awe of it.

Director: Edmond Pang
Cast: Josie Ho, Michelle Ye, Eason Chan

Dream Home is out for sale in the UK now.

To see the trailer, please click here.

Dream Home (18) is a Network Releasing title
Running Time: 96 minutes
No.of Discs: 1
Screen Ratio: 16:9
Catalogue no: 7953492
RRP: £19.99.

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