Josie Ho is the rebel daughter of one of the wealthiest families in the world and the psycho killer star of Ho-Cheung Pang's Dream House, a satirical gore-soaked slasher fest that revolves around a young woman who is obsessed with purchasing one of Hong Kong’s most de riguer properties. When her struggle to save enough money move into the tower block of her dreams comes to nothing, she loses it big time and takes her anger out on its unsuspecting residents – cue pregnant women suffocating in plastic bags, entrails splattered all over the floor and naked girls choking on massive chunks of wood.
Here, the stunning, enigmatic and refreshingly down-to-earth actress (who was feted for her role as a lesbian school teacher in Yan Yan Mak’s excellent Butterfly) tells Dazed Digital why the first film to be funded by her production company 852 Films is drenched with blood.
Dazed Digital: Ia it true you pushed for Dream House to be as outrageously violent as possible?
Josie Ho: Yeah, and I think we can go further. It’s a planet away from the usual films that get made in Hong Kong, but as a film company we strongly believe that an audience exists there for this kind of black humour, gore and insanity: the kind of thing people don’t want to put in mainstream movies. There is a sublliminal message in there too that people in Hong Kong just do what ever it takes to be successful, and lots of them have forgotten about moral values. I mean, affordable housing is a really serious issue but if we had made the film really dark it would be too much – we wanted to make it completely whacked.
Dazed Digital: Do you think anyone could snap the way your character does?
Josie Ho: I think for any human being it takes just one step across the border and if you cross that border it won’t stop, it will just go to the extreme. It was a rollercoaster ride to play her. I suppose I like to shock people and I like to shock myself. For me, acting is really an escape from my reality. I’m a very contradictive person, and I don’t like the reality I grew up in. I know I’ve been very fortunate and it’s kind of wrong for me to say that, but I just don’t enjoy that world.
Dazed Digital: Your family are incredibly wealthy aren’t they?
Josie Ho: Yeah, my family all come from a financial real estate background. My father is actually the head of the real estate deveopment council in Hong Kong! I was kind of a screw up in high society. I had a lot of friends in high society as a teenager because they were the only kind of people I was introduced to. They are intelligent people but they have no life – their life is basically the country club, the golf club and their yachts. I always believed there was a much bigger world than that, and I wanted to see that world. I was always into making it on my own without my family’s support. It’s actually a 180-degree turn around that they have supported me in this 852 Films thing.
Dazed Digital: It was an act of rebellion for you to become a performer then?
Josie Ho: It’s a love/hate thing because my mother actually encouraged me to sing as a child, but when I was 18 and I wanted to apply to a performing arts school she ripped the application up and threw it in my face, saying, ‘The family cannot allow you to do this – don’t even dream about it!’
Dazed Digital: We heard somewhere that you believe in ghosts?
Josie Ho: I totally believe in all of that. I believe there are more dimensions than the one we know we are living in. To live somebody’s life in a film you are inviting sombody’s ghost into your soul and you slowly transform into that person and the less you think about it the more it will happen, you just have to zone out.
Dazed Digital: In what sense?
Josie Ho: Well, when you are zoned out over the couple of months that you are shooting and you fall in love with someone as a character in a film, you find that for a while you really are in love with that person – it happens to alot of actors.
Dazed Digital: I suppose it must have been pretty strange to play a lesbian in Butterfly then?
Josie Ho: That was scary because I knew I had to allow myself to go there, but when you do that you wonder whether it will change you point of view and your sexuality, and it does. I would never in my life think about touching with the same sex, because I would never think I would be turned on. But when we were shooting the movie, I was pretty much in it, and it felt like I was turned on. Then afterwards, you just can’t get it out of your mind. I mean, you see some beautiful woman walking down the street and you start thinking about it. The freakiest thing about it all is that these are choices you never think you would make in your real life, but after you have done anything once, you can do it again.
Dream Home is out on November 19