Sunday, July 13, 2014

Film Review: Dream Home (2010)

Dream Home (Review)
China/2010
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...this is not for the lighthearted."

Cheng Lai-sheung (Josie Ho) has an obsessive dream of owning an ocean-view apartment and will do anything to get it...

Dream Home follows Cheng as she goes on a murderous rampage in an apartment complex. The story is not in chronological order, so that's not necessarily a spoiler. Instead, we witness part of her vicious rampage, then a flashback to the events prior, which works well in balancing the slasher elements and the plot, then another scene of her rampage, and so on. This formula continues up until a bloody but extremely unlikely climax; I mean really, these are either the most incompetent characters on the planet or Cheng's luck just got much, much better. The ending is satisfying in a sense, but I was left wanting a bigger hit.

Dream Home has mixed storytelling. On one hand, it balances the slasher and plot points so it's never lopsided. On the other hand, it is inefficient and unnecessarily complicated; for example, one scene goes from slasher to flashback, then into a flashback within a flashback, then back to the original flashback, and finally back to the slasher. Aside from the storytelling, there's not much to discuss with the story, it really boils down to: "I can't have it my way, so you can't have it yours." This, in turn, may make you hate Cheng since her actions aren't justifiable; I didn't find her unbearable, but it did notice the character development failed to make me sympathize or empathize with her.

However, as a horror film, Dream Home redeems itself with great suspense and unexpected shock value -- and this is coming from a hardcore horror fan. Dream Home is unbelievably shocking, with cringe-worthy violence at every corner. The introduction alone shows us a brutally realistic and creative strangulation and a splatterfest of blood. Depending on your outlook, it either goes uphill or downhill after that as the violence is turned up tenfold. The graphic violence is unforgettable -- this is not for the lighthearted. There's also a pinch of some very dark humor.

Although I don't think her character was developed efficiently, Josie Ho delivers a wonderful performance as the lead. The rest of the cast is also fantastic by contemporary horror standards. The film is shot well, great cinematography and camerawork. The makeup and special effects are superb; I love the practical effects, and there is only one scene with very noticeable computer effects. Although the storytelling was a bit inefficient in developing the character, I think director Pang Ho-cheung did a great job in creating suspense and terror; this is a daring horror film with high production values, and I applaud the director for his uncompromising vision.

Overall, Dream Home is a great slasher. I did enjoy the story, but I felt like the character and storytelling were flawed. However, Dream Home makes up for it with its unbelievable shock value, and Josie Ho saves her character from completely mediocrity.

Score: 8/10
Parental Guide: Extremely graphic violence and gore, sex and nudity.

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