Dream Home

Cheng (Josie Ho, "Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li") has her heart set on a flat appraised at more than $5 million. There's only one problem: She can't afford it on her salary as a bank telemarketer, even with her part-time job as a shop salesclerk.

Oh, there's a second problem, too: The apartment is occupied. But Cheng can take care of that one, by making the residents cease to exist. All it takes is a heavy hammer and a really sharp knife.

Fractured in its timeline, but easily followed, the story is filled in with flashes of how her childhood have shaped and warped her thinking. "Dream Home" doesn't give her some stupid "the night he came home" motivation, but the real-life transfer of sovereignty from the UK to China in the late '90s — who said slasher movies can't be educational?

Director/co-writer Ho-Cheung Pang ("Isabella") also uses the film to make strong statements on his country's divisions of classes and sexes. With every rich man depicted as having a wife, yet keeping a mistress and even frequenting prostitutes, it's as if he's saying they may very well deserve what Cheng gives them, like they're simply too self-absorbed to appreciate their many blessings. Sick as it sounds, you really root for Cheng.

In other words, "Dream Home" has much more on its mind than simply slaying supporting characters, but oh, my, does it do that, too. It's one of the goriest exercises I've seen in some time; considering how often I see horror films and thrillers, that's saying something.

Pang deserves commendation not just for crafting a smart serial-killer picture, with a twist of uniqueness, but also for giving viewers a real sense of place in his camera's capturing of Hong Kong. Gorgeous and sharp are the cinematography; some transitional exteriors are shot in the method that makes look the buildings and their surroundings look like miniature models.

This one's really well-done. I loved it, even when I was grossed-out by it. —Rod Lott