As a child, Cheng Lai-sheung (Ho) could see Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour from her apartment. Over time ruthless property developers, with the aid of gangs, forced the residents out of the buildings in front of her home, making way for a massive residential project that now blocks her view. Cheng has vowed to one day save up enough money to move her family to a harbour view apartment.
To achieve this, she works two full time jobs, but no matter how hard she labours the ever increasing Hong Kong real estate market keeps her dream home out of reach. That is until her father’s death, where the insurances money finally leaves her with enough for a deposit. Unfortunately the owner of her dream apartment backs out of their previous negotiation, after a further sharp rise in the property market, leaving Cheng distraught and her dream home seemingly impossible to attain. But what could she do to bring the property prices down . . . perhaps a tower block blood bath?
In this current global economic recession, where the working class are affected particularly badly, Dream Home is a particularly poignant film. It highlights the powerlessness arguably felt by many in the face of market forces that affect people’s lives in significant, and often negative, ways. However, the film would have been more pertinent if Cheng had actually taken revenge upon those directly responsible, like the property developers or those in the banking sector, but this could have been deemed as inciting actual violence. Unfortunately by murdering the innocent residents of the homes, Cheng’s actions become completely indefensible. However, her actions could be viewed as someone wildly and aggressively lashing out at something far beyond their control and understanding.
Pang Ho-Cheng has managed to breathe new life into the fairly formulaic slasher genre by drawing on a socially relevant theme, a change that will hopefully inspire other filmmakers to inject an element of social criticism into their films regardless of the genre. Dream Home will entertain all fans of the slasher genre with its large array of imaginatively gruesome deaths. Also, like many modern slasher films it is somewhat tongue in cheek, adding a dark comic element to the film.
Interestingly the film is also rather unconventional in that the killer is also the protagonist, giving the audience a greater understanding of her motives. This is compounded by the flashback narrative structure, where a flashback to a past grievance rationalizes the imminent murder. Employing these elements has a disturbing effect; it makes the audience feel implicated in the killings.
Cheng also avoids many of the ‘psycho’ killer clichés, making her appear to be a more disturbingly calculated killer. Elements of her character are quite conflicting, where at times she can barely stomach her actions, making her one of the most three dimensional slasher murderers.