Thursday 10 April 2008

Wishing Stairs (2003)

Part three of a thematic trilogy, Wishing Stairs follows Whispering Corridors, which I still haven't seen, and Memento Mori, which I have. It was a confusing but interesting Korean horror movie set in a girls school with lots of characters. This one follows in the same tradition, but with even earlier and more overt lesbianism going on. So-hee an Jin-sung are a couple of ballerinas who are also a couple but they're not the only ones. There's even a characterful fat girl called Hae-ju with a crush on another girl. She doesn't stay fat for long though because of the supernatural element of the movie. After all you can't have a horror movie with a bunch of schoolgirl ballerinas alone.

Outside the school is a staircase known as the Fox's staircase. It has 28 steps, at least it has 28 steps most of the time. Sometimes it has 29 and if you make a wish when you tread on the 29th step that wish will come true. Needless to say the wishes don't quite come out as expected and tragedy strikes. Director Jae-yeon Yun keeps it slow and suspenseful, with lighter hearted moments to vary the tone. Lead actresses Ji-hyo Song and Han-byeol Park are fine but it's An Jo as Hae-ju who steals the show to my mind.

She gets plenty of screen time, is varying degrees of freaky from moment one, starting out as the token fat girl to to scary obsessive girl to dangerous girl with a temper to really out there possessed girl. She does a great job of appearing both fat and thin at different points of the movie and that ability to look convincingly different enables her to play with all sorts of emotions and looks and images. She's a really memorable psycho and it'll be fascinating to see what other roles she gets in other films. IMDb only lists five other credits for her: one earlier and four in succeeding years. They're a mixed bunch, it seems, both in ratings and genre, and she appears at varying points within the cast list. I hope she gets another role as interesting as this one though. It would be great to see her get the opportunity to shine in other ways.

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