Dream Home (2010) Movie Review - Hilarious and Brutal Hong Kong Horror

Horror, Drama, Slasher | 96 Min
Dream Home (2010) Review
  • Director: Ho-Cheung Pang
  • Actors: Josie Cho, Eason Chan, Derek Tsang, Norman Chui
  • Writers: Ho-Cheung Pang
  • Producers: Josie Ho, Subi Liang, Conroy Chi-Chung Chan
  • Country: Hong Kong
  • Language: Cantonese, Mandarin, English, Tagalog
  • Parental: Graphic Nudity, Gore, Drug Use, Sexual Assault, Violence, Injury Detail, Extremely Upsetting Scenes, Sexual Content, Peril, Language.
  • Horror, Drama, Slasher | 96 Min

Cheng Li-sheung is a young upwardly mobile professional finally ready to invest in her first home. But when the deal falls through she is forced to keep her dream alive - even if it means keeping her would-be neighbors dead.

There are six days of our K-O-Ween 31 Days of Halloween feature left and today we are off to Hong Kong to take a look at Ho-Cheung Pang’s Dream Home. If you are a fan of super stylish, and absolutely brutal, slasher horror then you are going to love Dream Home. Set in Hong Kong and focusing on a young woman’s struggle to acquire the perfect flat in one of the most hostile housing markets in the world. Dream Home aims to shock the viewer while making them laugh at the same time.

I’m probably horribly bias when it comes to Dream Home. I am going to attempt to review it objectively rather than simply rave about it. Technically, it is not as good of a horror movie as many others on this list. If you are looking for a good time, however, it is simply fantastic. Combining an almost Tarantino level of style with some of the most gruesome kills in horror history. Dream Home is both shocking and fun. Without further ado, let’s take a look. As always I will give a quick, spoiler free, breakdown of the movie which you can skip if you like.

Dream Home – Synopsis

Dream Home follows the story of Cheng, played by Josie Ho, and her attempt to purchase a flat in a housing complex facing the Victoria bay. The story takes place over the course of 30 years or so and events are shown in a variable chronological order. Cheng’s father has recently passed away. After dreaming of buying a flat with a view over the harbour to live in with him. Cheng realises it is too late. Still, determined to purchase her dream home, she continues her pursuit.

Dream Home (2010) Review

This scene is the start of something utterly brutal

The only problem is, the housing market in Hong Kong is killer and the only way Cheng can get a foot in the door is to become one herself. Realising that she has no other options, she decides the only way to bring things down to a more affordable price. Is to break into the complex and cause chaos. What follows is one of the most brutal horror movies in recent memory as Cheng cuts the price of her apartment by cutting people up into little pieces. 

Stylish Slasher Horror

Dream Home is a fantastically stylish slasher horror. Absolutely brutal in its delivery. The movie combines elements of drama with a calculated murderer on an intense killing spree. The movie starts as it means to go on, with a horrific kill scene. Nothing too different here but that is set to change.

Unlike many other slasher movies, Dream Home prefers to expand on its story in a non-linear manner between the scenes of violence. There is a heavy focus here on the plight of Cheng and her family. We have flashbacks to her childhood and we can see how horribly difficult her life has become. She is a sympathetic character which contrasts nicely with the events occurring in the present time.

Set against a backdrop of the difficult Hong Kong housing market, the story is firmly routed in the realities of life for low earners in the city. Cheng is working multiple jobs and appears to be dating a deadbeat businessman who is already married. She is receiving no help from the people around her so she decides to help herself. This turns Dream Home into a violent genre picture full of action packed sequences that wouldn’t be out of place in a seinen anime or a Tarantino movie. It’s brilliant stuff and tremendously fun.

Incredibly Brutal

Dream Home is incredibly brutal, it has to be said. It’s one of the most violent slasher horror movies I have ever watched. Naturally, movies like this fail or thrive based on their kills. Numbers often takes a back seat to the gruesomeness and inventiveness of the kills. Saw stood out for the sheer creativity of the way Jigsaw murdered his victims. Dream Home stands out for this same reason.

Dream Home (2010) Review

This is, pretty much, the exact face you will be pulling throughout this scene

There are some, frankly, disgusting scenes here. Expect fingers to be missing, eyeballs to be popped out, guts to be spilled and so much more. It all looks horribly convincing, as well. The special effects department has gone wild here and done an incredibly realistic job. From what I can tell, the vast majority of the effects here are practical, which is very nice to see. Buckets of blood are spilled and it’s impossible not to feel sorry for the victims.

Perhaps Not For Everyone

For much of its run, the violence here is played for laughs. At times, however, I imagine some viewers will be put off entirely. There is a concerted effort to disgust the viewer here and most people who watch will be left, at least a little, grossed out. Needless to say, if you have a weak stomach, you are probably going to want to avoid this movie.

There is one scene in Dream Home that is, for lack of a better description, disturbing. Whenever I think of horror movie kills, this scene is always at the forefront of my mind. Without going into too much detail it involves a heavily pregnant woman and it is almost as bad as you might imagine. This scene was cut in the Asian release and it is not hard to see why. All being fair in love and horror, some will likely appreciate how incredibly gross the scene is. Others, however, will likely turn the movie off right there. If you want to watch but also wish to avoid this scene, skip from 23 minutes to 26 and you should be fine.

Dream Home’s chronology is, also, a little strange. Again, it reminds me of a Tarantino movie and it’s hard not to see the influence of Pulp Fiction here. The timeline darts around all over the place. It isn’t until the end that you really have a grasp of how the events have played out. I imagine this will likely throw a few people off and it can be, honestly, quite difficult to follow.

Funnier Than You Might Assume

Dream Home is ridiculously stylish. There are a number of creative shots that aim to captivate the viewer. Interesting camera and editing techniques are used to add flair to some of the kills. The kill scenes almost feel like video game set pieces where the developer has complete control over the camera to add maximum shock value for the viewer. The filming style is always interesting and lends itself well to the almost comic book style of the violence.

Dream Home (2010) Review

Funny, brutal, and full of gore. This scene is the perfect embodiment of the Dream Home experience

Dream Home is, also, quite a funny movie. It has a satirical approach so there are plenty of little winks to the viewer. Some of the scenes, however, lean even further into the humour and are legitimately hilarious. There is one particular stretch during the middle of the movie that had my partner and I laughing our asses off every time we have a watched it.

It takes place in the flat of a group of people who are taking drugs and having sex. It features debauchery, nudity, gore, and parts of the body spilling out that should definitely not be spilling out. The scene is played almost entirely for laughs and is a great example of how well balanced the movie is between drama, comedy, and horror.

Fantastic Acting & Excellent Cinematography

Dream Home is, for the most part, very well acted. Side characters are all pretty decent but it is Josie Ho that carries the film. Ho, as Cheng, is easy to sympathise with and a compelling mix of victim and femme fatale.

Ho is the daughter of a billionaire casino magnate so this character is directly in contrast to her actual upbringing. She also co-produced the film which was released under her own film studio 852 Films. We have Ho to thank for the fact that Dream Home is so comically violent, as well. Director Pang Ho-cheung wanted Dream Home to be more realistic. It was Josie Ho that desired more violence and for the movie to be a little more ridiculous.

Cinematography, in general, is excellent. There are lots of fantastic outdoor shots highlighting the unusual landscape of Hong Kong. Cameras capture the cityscape from high up and the sense of scale is always impressive. Indoor shots are full of detail and flair with the flashback shots being particularly interesting. There is a sense of claustrophobia and darkness used to highlight the desperation of Cheng’s situation. Is very nicely done and always interesting to look at.

Should You Watch Dream Home?

If you are looking for a stylish, blood soaked, thrill ride of a horror movie then you should definitely watch Dream Home. It is brutally violent, hilarious in parts, shocking and even occasionally touching. Taking a highly stylised and gory look at a genuinely troubling housing issue in Hong Kong. Dream Home manages to deliver in more ways than one. Keep in mind, however, it has a number of scenes that will make your toes curl. One of my favourite slasher movies ever.

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