Home Sweet Home review: Strange happenings around a strange family
Length: 110 minutes
Director: Leste Chen
Cast: Aaron Kwok, Duan Yihong, Zhang Zifeng, Hsu Weining, Sean Rong
Language: Mandarin with English and Chinese subtitles
Release details: In theatres 6 May (Singapore)
2.5 out of 5 stars
Starring Aaron Kwok as Mr Wang, Home Sweet Home is a thriller that follows the strange events happening in the house of his seemingly regular family. Apparently, the events start happening after a school bus accident, which kills everyone onboard except bus driver Yu Kunqiao (Duan Yihong) and Mr Wang’s son Wang Chuqi (Sean Rong).
Evidence seems to indicate that the accident is a result of Kunqiao’s negligence. Although Mr Wang is rather lenient towards Kunqiao, and even lets him stay in his basement for three years after the accident, he has been passive-aggressive to him, prompting him to turn himself in. However, as Kunqiao suffered from a concussion, he is having difficulties remembering the accident — even whether the accident was really caused by him.
The plot is incoherent and confusing at best, so if you are looking for a satisfying mystery to solve, you will be greatly disappointed. Everything seems to be so mysterious that it is hard to fathom what the purpose of each character is. Specifically, Wang Chutong (Zhang Zifeng), the older sister of Chuqi, is the weirdest.
On one hand, she seems to be on good terms with the supposed murderer Kunqiao, often asking him for advice on her art. Yet in one incident, she sleepwalks into his room and creepily re-enacts a scene during the accident, as if trying to scare him into remembering his wrongdoings.
Furthermore, she seems to hate her younger brother when she says to him, as if accusing him of indirectly causing the accident, “Didn’t he kill the people you want dead? Those who bullied you are dead. Shouldn’t you be happy?” But when they are on the way home and his shoelace comes off, she kneels down to help him tie it.
Regardless, most of the strange events do not help to advance the plot, but only make it more blurry. Some of the incidents include Mrs Wang (Hsu Weining) deceiving Chuqi to enter the cellar and locking him up; Chutong getting attacked in the supposedly empty house; and Chuqi threatening Chutong that if she dares to betray dad and him, he will not show any mercy.
Even the ending does not explain things well. There are so many things that do not connect, to the extent that it is frustrating to watch. In the end, you will get the rough idea of what happened, but not so much on the “why”.
Thankfully though, the great acting makes the movie more bearable to watch. Aaron Kwok’s portrayal of a sinister alpha male character is something new and refreshing to see — as opposed to the typical characters in Hong Kong crime films. Although his appearance looks proper (stern face and neatly-combed hair), you cannot help but feel a tinge of eeriness coming from his words and eyes.
In addition, Sean Rong’s performance is also one to pay attention to. He may be young (12 years old at the time of filming), but his acting speaks through his facial expressions, especially during his scenes with the sister. Zhang Zifeng is also a budding young actress, who is able to portray the creepiness of her character, making use of contrasting expressions.
Home Sweet Home is, sad to say, not very enjoyable, no thanks to its confusing plot. But it still offers a thrilling and mysterious experience, and features great actors.
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