Review: DREAM HOME 維多利亞壹號 (2010) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Review: DREAM HOME 維多利亞壹號 (2010)

Review: DREAM HOME 維多利亞壹號 (2010)

Told in a non-linear fashion, the movie opens with a disclaimer showing statistics on the cost of buying a home in Hong Kong. It points out that since 1997, Hong Kong income has increased 1% while the cost of housing went up a whopping 15% in 2007 alone. Apartments as tiny as 600 square feet can fetch up to $300,000, and more for those with an ocean view. That is exactly what Sheung (Josie Ho) have been desperately wanting, as she's been saving money very hard to own one unit at the prestigious, high-rise housing estate of No. 1 Victoria Bay. We begin with her killing spree, where her first victim being an unsuspecting security guard (Wong Ching) at the area. Then the movie jumps back and forth at a different time frame, showcasing fragmented look of Sheung's struggling life way back when she's just a kid. During her childhood past, little Sheung (Vivian Leung) used to live in a rundown public housing and watching as the government and property developers take the homes of adjoining neighbours. After she grows up, she vows to buy a unit at No. 1 Victoria Bay as her future home. But the reality is, she can't actually afford to live there. Even his fellow colleagues told her the same thing as well. Sheung's double-shift jobs (telemarketing and retail sales) are all earned with minimum wages. Her lousy affair with a married man, Siu To (Eason Chan) is nothing more meaningful than just a sex companion and he's a heartless being who won't lend her money to help with an operation for her sick father (Norman Tsui). Back at the killing spree, we see Sheung continues to kill more victims at the No. 1 Victoria Bay -- including a pregnant woman (Michelle Ye), her husband (Sinn Lap Man) and a Filipino maid (Dewi Ariyanti) before proceeds to the noisy upstairs neighbors, Cheung Jai (Derek Tsang) and On Jai (Lawrence Chou) as well as two mainland prostitutes (Song Xiao Cheng and Zhou Chu Chu). Obviously, there is something that drives her so mad to commit such bloodbath.

REVIEW: Pang Ho-Cheung's first foray into slasher movie territory, DREAM HOME, is something of a different beast. Something that is out of the ordinary you normally expect from this kind of genre. The movie doesn't play like the Hollywood counterparts but rather a uniquely genre experiment that mixes with timely social issues and pitch-black comedy that usually associated with Pang Ho-Cheung's filmmaking style. The result is a hard-hitting, Category-III movie unlike anything you've seen in a long while -- DREAM HOME is a wet dream for both die-hard fans of the director's work and genre fans. Not that it's a perfect masterpiece but close enough to deserve a cult status.

I must admit at the beginning of the movie, it's quite frustrating to follow what's really going on between viewing at Sheung's miserable life and her ongoing killing spree. It's almost like a no-brainer at first, but those who is patience enough will gradually understand the whole scenario writer-director Pang Ho-Cheung trying to convey all along. This is where Pang Ho-Cheung succeeds the most as he paints an ironic, and often explicit look of how Sheung have to face a series of pressure-cooking scenarios as a typical Hong Kong resident. The movie would have been a certified masterpiece if Pang Ho-Cheung chooses to sustain that particular momentum.

And this is where Pang Ho-Cheung goes a little overboard with his genre experiment. Make no mistake, it's really a bold move to infuse his social commentary with a slasher underpinning. Speaker of the slasher, he proves to be an efficient visual artist. Numerous creative kills and the violence are so unflinching they are certainly not for the squeamish (Note: the Hong Kong theatrical version has trimmed off nearly 30 seconds worth of explicit violence, especially involving scene with the pregnant woman and sliced-off genitalia), while the gore effects are shocking enough that pushes the limit of its Category-III rating. As impressive as they look (more especially for genre fans), it's also questionable that Pang Ho-Cheung almost get too carried away with the slasher undertones. The rest of genre requirements you saw in Category-III movie are all here as well -- including a copious amount of profanities and a particularly hard-hitting sex scene.

The cast, in the meantime, is equally good with Josie Ho steals the show as a struggling woman who tries hard to fulfil her dream. She is especially disturbing during the scene when she kills off her victims.

Although a tad over-the-top, Pang Ho-Cheung's first foray into slasher territory is a violent yet unique pitch-black comedy infused with topical social issues.

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