Best of Tribeca: Killing for a "Dream Home"

Think the real estate market's bad? Check out the gruesome house hunt in this Hong Kong horror-comedy

By Andrew O'Hehir

Published May 4, 2010 8:45PM (EDT)

Josie Ho as CHEUNG (Fortissimo Films)
Josie Ho as CHEUNG (Fortissimo Films)

There are many horror stories and many comic fables to be found in the world of real estate, but perhaps none as hilarious, outrageously stylish and thoroughly disgusting as Hong Kong director Pang Ho-cheung's "Dream Home." Leave all concerns about morality and good taste at the door for this saga of upwardly mobile Li-sheung (Josie Ho), who vowed in childhood that one day she would live in a luxury flat with a harbor view, and will stop at nothing to fulfill her dream. In case I haven't made that totally clear, "Dream Home's" not for the squeamish, but if you relish gruesome-comic Asian-movie mayhem at its finest, this will be a memorable experience.

Thing is, Li-sheung's deal for her dream apartment is falling apart at the last minute, and she needs to find a way to make the sellers reconsider, right in the middle of Hong Kong's late-2000s real estate boom. Hmm -- how about inflicting a horrific killing spree on the neighbors, sending a variety of drugged-out losers, trashed hookers, blasé bourgeoisie, intrusive cops and innocent bystanders to their deaths in imaginative, splatterific fashion?

You will see bongs, record players, vacuum cleaners and toilet bowls used as instruments of murder! You will see a nominally sympathetic heroine rendered into an insane killing machine! You will see a 750-square-foot apartment nearly filled with exsanguinated and dismembered corpses! Believe it or not, "Dream Home" goes beyond its rococo, nihilistic violence (much of it X-rated, by the way) into piercing social satire and considerable dramatic tension. Whether or not you find the movie reprehensible -- and it kind of is -- Pang is a young director of tremendous verve and talent.

Andrew O'Hehir

Andrew O'Hehir is executive editor of Salon.

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