Coffin Homes (2021) Review

Spoiler-free so you can read before you watch

Coffin Homes (2021) Review

Horrorific content by Christina Dee on September 23rd, 2021 | Movie Review | Supernatural, Confined, Haunted House, Anthology

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A satirical horror anthology, that probes the city’s eternal housing problem, especially its micro dwellings known as cubicle apartments or coffin homes.

Coffin Homes is the latest genre film from writer-director Fruit Chan (Dumplings, The Midnight After) – a trio of ghost stories addressing the housing crisis in Hong Kong. However, this time, Chan adopts a semi-comedic approach to his material to capture the hysteria surrounding the problem accurately. The film stars a talented cast that includes Tai Bo, Cheung Tat-Ming, Loletta Lee, and Wong You-Nam

Risks involved: The prices of haunted properties varies!

Coffin Homes Review

Sometimes there’s nothing quite like a good horror anthology, as they can be amazing when done really well, but “done well” is indeed the operative term here.

Although Coffin Homes tackles three different stories, they’re artfully interwoven to produce a compelling, cohesive narrative. The first story takes place at a sprawling, aging mansion following the death of its 98-year-old matriarch. Her surviving relatives have come together to divvy up the assets and belongings left behind. But, of course, things don’t go as smoothly as planned, so it’s not long before there’s mayhem and a body count to deal with.

The second story follows the story of property agent Jimmy Lam (You-Nam). Unbeknownst to anyone else in Jimmy’s life, he’s residing in what’s known as a death flat. Such flats are generally considered undesirable because someone died there, but rental savings can sometimes lure those desperate for an affordable place to live. Eventually, the ghost of the dead butcher that haunts Jimmy’s flat (Paul Che) makes his presence known, bringing havoc to Jimmy’s life and serving as a grim reminder of why one might want to think twice before moving into a death flat.

Finally, the third story is all about Cheung (Bo), an unscrupulous slumlord looking to milk the subdivided flat he owns for all its worth. His latest tactic is to repurpose the property into tiny cubicle dwellings to lease out at exorbitant prices. And, of course, it’s never really an Asian ghost story until the menacing ghost of a dead child shows up at the party.

This isn’t Chan’s first rodeo when it comes to addressing the Hong Kong housing crisis, as he took a few pointed potshots at it in The Abortionist, as well. However, he comes at the issue full-force in Coffin Homes. Comedy is often an effective way to bring much-needed awareness to serious problems without coming across as too heavy-handed, and Chan absolutely nails it here. In fact, he bites right into the meat of the matter, especially when it comes to the lower end of the real estate market, with his take on the infamous coffin cubicles. He’s adept at making his points without slowing down the film or mucking up the storylines.

There’s plenty to love here for fans of gory Asian horror, as well. It’s worth noting that Coffin Homes is so bloody that squeamish viewers who prefer horror-lite might want to give a different film their time. But if you can hang, this film is worth it, especially since the visceral nature of the gore perfectly underscores the desperation of the real estate situations.
The lead cast is also fantastic here, with Chan extracting noteworthy performances from several players in particular. Veteran actor Paul Che steals the show in his role as a ghostly butcher. However, Tai Bo, Loletta Lee, and Wong You-Nam are not to be overlooked, either, as each shows a considerable talent for the dark and macabre. 

Worth Watching?

All in all, Coffin Homes is a remarkable testament to the edge and good storytelling Fruit Chan is famous for, seamlessly blending the horrific with the humorous and the socially astute. 

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