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‘Parasite’ Review: Dir. Bong Joon-ho (2019)

The film world has been sending itself into a frenzy for Bong Joon-ho‘s latest movie, Parasite. This love has seen it become an awards season darling, with nominations and wins across the board. Having watched the film, I can confirm it is indeed just as good, if not better than everyone is saying. The tricky thing though is that in order to get the absolute best experience, you should go in knowing as little about it as possible. This makes writing the following review exceptionally difficult.

The Kim family has fallen on hard times. Their home is a glorified storage unit beneath street level, and with no access to television or WiFi, their nightly entertainment comes via the local drunks urinating outside their window. Luck then starts to turn in their favour after a close friend of Ki-woo recommends him for a tutoring position with the affluent Park family. Once hired, Ki-woo sees a way to exploit the Parks for his family’s gain, but as the plan gets into motion, the wheels come unstuck.

Parasite is not the film that you may be expecting. Even if you don’t heed my warning and read everything you can about the film before viewing, Parasite will still hold surprises for you. You see, Parasite isn’t simply just one film, one story that fits into a nice little box, rather it is a story that takes the audience, and its cast of characters, on the journeys of those typically contained within ten or so films. Even when sat watching the film, just when you think you’ve figured out what’s happening and where events are leading, everything gets switched up and we’re essentially back at the start again. This could, in the hands of a lesser filmmaker, lead to a muddled narrative or be an instance of repetitive false starts turning the viewer off. Here though, it ramps up the intrigue as Bong steadily layers his piece. As each layer is added, the audience’s enjoyment heightens and their engagement deepens, the grey matter thriving on the richness and scope of the narrative.

Related: Parasite nominated for Best Picture at the 2020 Oscars 

Bong balances the tone of the film beautifully. Not content to make a film that can easily be pigeon-holed into one theme, he instead chooses to traverse pretty much all of them. Let’s face it, that is a much more honest reflection of real-life, which sees people move through a full spectrum of experiences from moments of horror to instances of fun. Bong’s ability to delicately tune Parasite so that it never veers too much into one territory may actually be the reason the movie has become such a crowd-pleaser. Its ability to encompass almost every genre all at once means that everyone, no matter what your preferred genre is, can find something to love.

It’s not just the story that captivates, oh no, Bong has brought the best of the best to all aspects of this production. The film looks stunning, both in terms of the cinematography, which is lush and lavish and in the set design. Most of the story unfolds within the walls of the homes of the two families, and painstaking work has been put into both. The juxtaposition of the Kim’s tiny cluttered dilapidated abode, and the Park’s pristine airy and modern mansion, perfectly highlights the status of each before we’ve found anything out about either one of them. It’s the cast themselves that really reward though, each one injecting warmth, humour, and heart into their character, regardless of which family they belong to.

If Parasite were a vegetable it would be an onion. A deep and complex narrative, rich in social commentary, is intricately wrapped within layer upon layer of different complementary genres and tones.

Parasite is released in cinemas on Friday 7th February. 

Kat Hughes is a UK born film critic and interviewer who has a passion for horror films. An editor for THN, Kat is also a Rotten Tomatoes Approved Critic. She has bylines with Ghouls Magazine, Arrow Video, Film Stories, Certified Forgotten and FILMHOUNDS and has had essays published in home entertainment releases by Vinegar Syndrome and Second Sight. When not writing about horror, Kat hosts micro podcast Movies with Mummy along with her five-year-old daughter.


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