By: Ben Schatzel
After a week since the crowning of Parasite for Best Picture, I’ve found myself being bombarded with messages from a number of friends and family. For the most part, they all read the same. Have you seen this Parasite movie? Is it as weird as it looks? Will I have to read? Is it actually that good? It’s supposed to be a horror thing, right? Well, the short answer to all of those is yes. The long answer is HELL yes.
Parasite is a wet and wild 2 hour and 12-minute opus straight from the mind of Bong Joon-Ho (Snowpiercer, Okja, Memories of Murders) and if you tried to fit this film neatly into a genre, you would fail. The premise revolves around the Kim family, a destitute yet savvy family, as they slowly befriend and service the Parks, a wealthy family in town. The four Kims pose as a tutor, a therapist, driver and housemaid, each working directly for one family member of the Parks. The premise of the story feels farcical and the first 90 minutes or so of the film is full of laughs and good feels. But that’s not what makes it the best movie of 2019, and it’s certainly not what makes it a brilliant piece of horror.
In the third act of the story, we see a full tone shift as the Kims begin to uncover secrets related to the Parks. A visceral fear sets in as we see our beloved characters begin to grasp with a new series of conflicts. There’s suspense. There’s betrayal. And despite it all, there’s still a number of laugh riots throughout. Bong Joon-Ho’s screenplay doesn’t include an ounce of unneeded dialogue or a single unnecessary shot as the tempo rises with tensions before finally landing on a note of bittersweet optimism.
A lot of the reviews that I’ve seen attempt to boil the story of Parasite down to a given theme. It’s a movie about classism. Or generational struggle. Or a unique take on social Darwinism. And while I find all of these attempts to place a single theme on Parasite to be noble, they are still attempts. The film certainly has a number of big ideas centered on capitalist greed and social division; but there are layers upon layers of subtext that makes commentary on how society views differently-abled people, cultural
appropriation and the usage of American Indian iconography, a number of social norms applicable to both Korea and America and many others. What I love, though, is that Parasite doesn’t lead with any of these thoughts. It never feels too brainy or pretentious. The second it feels like the movie might begin to get “preachy” the movie throws curveballs in the form of a toilet shooting sewage water or a trap door opening. What the film does lead with is laughs, thrills, suspense, scares, and a completely original story that never feels predictable or cliche.
Parasite is a must-watch.