Dream Home (2010) - "Wai dor lei ah yut ho" original title, from Hong Kong this film is a surprising gory and brutal story that has enough back story to make it all seem reasonable, in a crazy kind of way. Cheng Li-sheung (Josie Ho) lives in Hong Kong and dreams of the apartment with a view of the ocean. She works two jobs and puts aside as much money as possible for that Dream Home. Skipping the fun her friends and coworkers enjoy instead focusing on her goal of saving money. If there is a drawback to this film it is that she is not a fully rounded person in the world. She has few friends and her sexual life consists of liaisons with a married man. She has a brother but really her world is compact. She strive alone to gain a goal and is single minded about it.
There is good reason for this as we see in the flashbacks to her childhood. Cheng Li sheung had a tough childhood. One where the people in her parents and neighbors were fighting to keep their housing in the face of redevelopment pressure. Touching on Hong Kong's growth problems the film highlights the struggle of the poor in a fight for affordable housing. The tactics used by the developers include locking people in buildings and releasing poisonous snakes in the building. These kind of incidents influenced or lead character. The friendship she had with the boy across the street who later vanishes as his building was empties and demolished impacted her greatly. This is the foundation of her drive for the perfect home. Cheng Li-sheung is a character shown to have a deep personal motivation. It is good writing by Ho-Cheng Pang who also directed, in his solid screenplay and story. Not only does he create a forceful character but there are some intesting secondary characters who she comes into contact with. He wrote in societal subtext about housing in Hong Kong without hitting you over the head with it and allowed it to be the prime motivation in the leads personality.
A second commentary on Chinese society in Hong Kong is the absent husband. Through her relationship with a married man and other characters conversations in the film. We see the issue of how husbands must work hard but then also how they keep mistresses and really secondary lives outside the home. It is a small thing in the film but it is seen throughout.
She has a choice to make when her father (Norman Chu) becomes ill and needs expensive treatment. Caring for him at home she shows her character as he struggles to hold onto life. Later we see her again when her dream is threatened step up and make the hard choices to get that apartment. With the price still out of reach and the sellers questioning if they should be asking for more, Cheng Li-sheung puts a strategy in motion to bring the price down. It is shocking and well executed movie making, brutal and gory the film almost descends into a slasher.
Driven with a need Cheng Li-sheung goes about entering the apartment building she so desires and working her way through several apartments killing the residents. I liked that this was not portrayed like a slasher film would do it. The kills are not easy or comic book quick. They are intense, gory and a struggle for the main character. She is not a killer but she really has thought out how to do it. She persists through the things that go wrong that night and manages in the end to get out of it in one piece. It is again a fine piece of writing to get the audience to cheer for the killer. She is butchering innocent people and yet we are on her side.
Some of the kills are a sight to be seen but be warned if you have a weak stomach for gore you will not be pleased. After the killings in the building she has quite a negotiation tool in talking down the price and very soon has her Dream Home. The ironic timing considering what she did to get the place is a final twist that I found just a bit too cute. Overall though this was a fine film with a deep enough back story to make it all make sense.
Rating (5.9) 5.0 and up are recommended in the zombiegrrlz system, I say RENT IT!