Monday, August 24, 2020

Building Pang Ho-Cheung’s DREAM HOME

Fan of extreme slashers? You may really dig Pang Ho-Cheung’s Dream Home!

The people you sit by at work, do you ever wonder what they do after they clock out? For example, Sarah in Human Resources, what unpleasant tasks does she perform outside of giving you more freakin’ policy forms to sign? Also, we know Jim in Accounting glorifies spreadsheets at work, but what does he glorify on his home computer? Boobies, maybe? Well, fifteen minutes into Dream Home, you will ponder even more about your co-workers’ extracurricular activities.

Written and directed by Pang Ho-Cheung, this horror is a well thought out gore fest with a non-linear timeline. Despite the bloodshed, flying fingers, and strangulation, your affection towards the killer will grow. It’s thorny to call this an uplifting horror, but the ending leaves you inspired to achieve your goals—perhaps by less deadly means than our protagonist.

In Dream Home, Cheng Lai Sheung has one goal. She is ready to invest in her first home, even amid the current economic crisis where the housing market is increasing faster than wages. For example, a 600-sq-ft apartment is now close to $1 million, and people are being evicted left and right. As expected, the deal for Lai Sheung’s ocean view flat falls through. She struggles with how to get more money or how to quickly decrease the property value. The first approach fails. The second—reduces to one option: murder the people she hoped to soon call neighbors. So, with her father’s fully-equipped construction belt around her waist, Lai Sheung gets to work.

The kills arouse more disgust and amusement than you expect. I remember thinking that zip-ties are just these innocent thingies that keep items in place, but after viewing this movie, fear crawls up the right side of my neck whenever I see someone holding one. I can’t help but imagine it clenching my throat, followed by pricks of a boxcutter as I try to cut free from the strangulation.

Seeing Josie Ho get creative with numerous props made me appreciate her even more. I blast tunes from her band Josie and the Uni Boys, and I adore her in various film roles, but this is by far my favorite Josie Ho. In an interview with South China Morning Post, Ho expresses how she agreed to the idea of doing something explicit despite audience expectations. Even though she plays a killer, Ho perfects the role in such a way that you want her to win in the end. Much of her success in this film is also do to Pang Ho-Cheung’s writing and directing.

Pang is one of the few directors who can balance our thirst for gore with our desire for a sensible plot. In Dream Home, he captures real-world financial problems and their unfavorable effects on marriage. In some marriages, husbands feel empowered, believing they are clever enough to disguise the act of picking up prostitutes as an innocent golf trip with friends. Subsequently, some wives voluntarily accept this lie to keep a roof over their heads. Then there is our self-interest. Some of us use our wages for an evening of entertainment before returning to work the following day. Others save for a potential way to achieve dreams of ownership and financial freedom. Pang shows that everyone either uses money as an escape from or enhancement of their current reality. Our protagonist Lai Sheung sees money as a means to achieve her dream. When working two jobs and performing sexual favors isn’t enough, she pursues lethal avenues to overcome her strongholds.

I wonder how many of us can achieve our dreams using this relentless approach. Obviously, I don’t mean go out and kill people. Instead, let’s search and pursue less extreme measures. For example, I first watched this movie on Netflix in 2015 and wanted to tell the whole world about it. I remember leaving the film confident that I could achieve this goal, although I only had a few Twitter followers and a depressing Facebook page. But I had to find a way to tell people that there is a film where a guy holds his intestines in one hand while trying to smoke a cigarette in the other. Four years and countless reviews later, the opportunity has finally come. So here you go. My review on one of the hottest horror movies ever. Point Blank. Period.

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