852 opens with 'Dream Home'

Josie Ho stars in Pang Ho-cheung slasher film

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HONG KONG -- Casino heiress, rocker and actress Josie Ho is christening her movie finance and production company 852 Films by turning a dark corner with a slasher film about a Hong Kong girl who will go to any length to attain her dream home.

Inspired by the woes of the average citizen facing Hong Kong's inflated property market, "Dream Home" -- by local writer-director Pang Ho-cheung -- "tries to address what is happening in our economy now," Andrew Ooi, the film's executive producer and Ho's partner in the new production outfit, told The Hollywood Reporter.

852 -- which takes its name from Hong Kong's telephone prefix -- was co-founded in 2007 with Ho's husband, actor Conroy Chan, and plans to make five films in the coming year with "support from Josie's family," Ooi said.

Best known for her bad-girl antics and her performances in films such as "Forever and Ever" (2002), "Naked Ambition" (2004) and "Exiled" (2006), Ho is a daughter of Macau casino tycoon Stanley Ho and a younger sister of MGM Grand Macau co-owner Pansy Ho.

"Dream Home" is indeed shaping up as a family affair, what with director Pang's wife Subi Liang joining Ho and Chan as a producer of the nearly $4 million project set to begin shooting Friday in Hong Kong's Causeway Bay district.

"We've got our own financing and have been struggling to get more to do indie films since 2007," said Ooi, long a Vancouver-based talent agent.

"It's tough, so we thought we'd start with something close to the heart, a Hong Kong movie."

Best known outside Asia for his 2006 film "Isabella" -- a complicated family drama set in Macau -- Pang says he chose a slasher film as his next project because he's always loved Hollywood's B-grade movies.

"I've probably been watching too many and it's not easy to find a new story for me to work on. I need a fresh subject," Pang said.

To bring focus to the lighting and music he feels are key to slasher films, Pang hired Wong Kar Wai's longtime lights man Wong Chi-ming and Italian composer Gabriele Roberto ("Memories of Matsuko").

"In my past films, I didn't have a strong sense of lighting design. Since my collaboration with Mr. Wong, we have many vibrations to build up emotion through lighting design," Pang said. Regarding the music, he added, "I would love the music to give the audience a disturbing feeling while watching my work."

"Dream Home" also stars Anthony Wong ("Infernal Affairs"), Eason Chan ("Lady Cop & Papa Crook"), Michelle Ye Suen ("Vengeance"), Lawrence Chou ("Re-cycle") and Derek Tsang ("Ocean Flame"), who co-wrote the script with Pang and Jimmy Wan, who also worked on "Isabella."

The film is being shot by Yu-Lik Wai ("Still Life," "Plastic City"), with production design from Lim Chung ("Trivial Matters"). Wenders Li ("Warlords") will edit and Andrew Lin Hoi ("Mimic") and Vittaya Deerattrakul ("Bangkok Dangerous") will handle special effects. Computer visual effects will be done by Fat Face Prods. ("Warlords").