Q&A: Run Headfirst into the Horrors of ‘Daughter’ with Vivien Ngô

There’s a sickness in the air — and the only way to stay safe is to remain indoors with your family. Pretty scary idea, especially considering events of the last few years.  But for the main character of the film “Daughter,”  this illness is the least of her problems.

The horror film which is now available on Amazon Prime is directed by Corey Deshon, and follows an unnamed woman (Vivien Ngô)  who is kidnapped by a family of three known only as Father (Casper Van Dien), Mother (Elyse Dinh), and Brother (Ian Alexander.) The family’s new daughter must survive by following the patriarch’s whims as she searches for a way to escape.

Before the movie’s release on Feb. 9, lead actress and producer Ngo sat down with Character Media to discuss what drew her to the project, how her Vietnamese heritage played into her role and more.

CM: What drew you to the role and this project?

VN: What drew me in was the fact that I wanted to make a movie and I wanted to see Corey direct their first feature. We just sat one day and [were] frustrated about the state of where we were as creatives, and were like, “Let’s go make a movie.” He went off and wrote this script for me, Ian, and Elyse. [Corey] wouldn’t give us any clues. He just said it was dark and weird, and I knew his brain was capable of that. Then he sent us this draft and I was like, “What is happening?” But I was sold.

CM: This was the first project you’ve produced. How did the experience differ from when you’re just working as an actress?

VN: I don’t think I’ve ever been “just” an actress. Even for my drama school days, we did these shows that were very ensemble-based, and it was always up to us to costume ourselves and figure out sets. I have this mentality of all hands on deck. If I’m capable of doing things — and I’m capable of doing a lot of things — then I’ll do it. That really translated well to me being a producer, but it was definitely a ride. Producing is a different beast, [especially] producing a feature for the first time. It was boot camp, and also, I’d never played a lead in anything before. So producing and [leading] for the first time… I don’t regret it, but I don’t know if I’d recommend that other people do what I did. 

CM: Was casting mostly Vietnamese actors a conscious choice?

VN: [Producer] Jes Vu and I are very passionate about connecting with other Viet Americans in the industry. So I had met Ian through Jes, and Elyse had played my mom previously. Prior to “Daughter” even just existing as an idea, Corey and I had spoken about doing something with them.  I think  80% [of our cast] are BIPOC, and most of our crew were BIPOC.

CM: You’ve mentioned in previous interviews that you come from a family of immigrants. What of that did you bring to the table for your role?

VN: We vaguely decided the film was taking place in the late ‘80s or early ‘90s. You see us hint at it; there is a scene where the mother character’s like, ‘Do you know about what happened back there, back then?’ And that’s a reference to the [Vietnam] War. It was influenced, but obviously not essential.

CM: Since your character exhibits many of the characteristics of the “final girl” trope, who were some final girls that inspired you?

VN: That’s really funny because I never thought of myself as a final girl. I only started getting into horror five or six years ago, but I do really enjoy it. In terms of my inspiration for this performance, I drew specifically a lot from Elisabeth Moss in “The Handmaid’s Tale”—it’s not a horror film, but it’s very horrific. You could say she’s a final girl in a way, but it’s not in a classic way.