Before Netflix was handed to us from The Great Movie God, it made finding really niche genres a task, a chore, a passion. I’m not going to pretend I was a connoisseur beforehand, but definitely (probably) could have been. Luckily for me Netflix came out right about the time I started getting really serious about film and a couple years later I landed a job at Blockbuster.
Now that Netflix is commonplace, so are these kinds of conversations:
Man 1 – Hey, you ever hear of a movie called Audition?
Man 2 – No, would I like it?
Man 1 – Well, its really messed up… so yeah probably.
Man 2 – Cool, I just added it to my Netflix Queue on my iPhone and later I’ll watch it on Instant Stream via my PS3, 360, or Wii on my awesome 3D HDtv with Surround Sound while my Robot Butler from Rocky 3 makes me popcorn and gets me a Dr. Pepper.
Man 1 – ……. I want a Robot Butler……
This means 2 things. One, its become easier to get foreign movies, Asian Extreme or otherwise. Two, some of those niche genres, like Asian Extreme, seem to be pandering to American audiences, instead of us happening upon them.
The Story: Cheng is a mild mannered two part-time job working middle class lady with plenty of middle class problems. However, none of this gets in the way of her dreams of owning a Loft. Also, turns out she’s kind of good at killing people.
The movie opens with a bunch of text about how expensive it is to live in Hong Kong. However, the movie seems to be using this as merely a backdrop for its main character, not really providing any social commentary on the situation.
The first scene then jumps right into things, as a drowsy security guard gets a prolonged and disturbing death. The audience is shocked. How could someone do this to a man? But more importantly… when you open a movie with that kind of death scene, can you really top it? Luckily, just about every death scene is as brutal, if not more so, than the first.
Before we get more into that, its important to note that inbetween this one night of horrors, Co-Writer/Director Ho-Chueng Pang has inter cut a bunch of backstory on our main character. I like the idea of jumping around in time a lot, keeps the otherwise dull and average story fresh, yet it never really amounts to anything. The ending is a little lack luster and the time shifts seem to be more American inspired.
So if Dream Home seems to be pandering to American audiences, does that make it good? While its nice to see something more in the style we are used to, that’s also what made other Asian Extremes like Audition, Ichi the Killer, and Oldboy so refreshing.
Dream Home may not excel at pushing any boundaries in terms of style, but luckily what it lacks in overall story and character it makes up for in its visual flair. Odd angles and a nice steady camera inject enough foreign life to give this movie some fresh air.
Besides, we all came for the violence. Dream Home does not skimp out on that. With some pretty inventive ways for our meek little main character to dispose of her victims, the camera also never shies away from showing us the whole death. Most American movies seem to want to make every death dramatic, but Pang seems more interested in the physicality and brutality of ‘how’ a person dies, letting the story speak for the ‘why’.
Josie Ho, who plays our leading lady Cheng, does a great job at transforming herself from an average mundane nobody with a simple dream to a hypnotic psychopath. Oddly the most tense moments in the movie are when we realize she may get caught.
Why You Must See It At Midnight: While it may fall flat as a compelling character drama, or a social-economic statement, or an easily digestible horror movie; Dream Home serves up plenty of dismembered and disemboweled gory fun anyone who has popcorn and soda for a second dinner. Now if only I could convince The Music Box to get a Robot Butler to get my refills…