Directed by Bong Joon Ho, Parasite is a South Korean black comedy that follows two families. The Park Family are the picture of aspirational wealth, while the Kim Family are rich in street smarts but not much else. Be it chance or fate, these two houses are brought together when the Kims sense a golden opportunity. Masterminded by college-aged Ki-woo (Choi Woo-shik), the Kim children expediently install themselves as tutor and art therapist, to the Parks. But when an interloper threatens the Kims’ newfound comfort, an underhanded battle for dominance breaks out.
The first non-English film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture and the first South Korean film to win the Palme d’Or, Parasite (GISAENGCHUNG)’s unanimous critical acclaim was obvious from the very beginning. And as a huge fan of the English-language Snowpiercer, I couldn’t wait to see Bong Joon Ho return to his native South Korean language.
Although I saw promotion for this film everywhere, I still had no idea where the story was going to go. I had a feeling that there was something supernatural going on in the house, but the parasite that actually resides there is much more impacting. Like a parasite attaching to its host, this film will grip to your intrigue and refuse to let go. But it’s a deceptive film in many ways, not fully unveiling itself until just when you think you know what’s going on.
With moments of dark comedy, Bong Joon Ho strikes a brilliant balance between a very raw and human drama with something much more menacing and almost spiritual. Although there are still many dark elements to it, Parasite mostly stands out for the social realisations that it makes. It certainly sends a message about the contrast between the rich and poor, but you don’t know where the boundaries are going to lie between real and imaginary. It’s that feeling of being about to tip over the edge either way that you feel in the pit of your stomach as Bong Joon Ho has you wavering on the edge the whole way through.
The less you know about this film going into it, the better. It’s a masterful piece of social satire with a spectacular narrative about family, pride, power, and economic and social structure.