"Explosive but Ultimately Disheartening Dark Satire"
What You Need To Know:
PARASITE becomes a thrill ride that’s alternately suspenseful, funny and shocking. Both the poor family and the rich family are deeply flawed. However, the movie has a strong Romantic, politically correct worldview that depicts both families as victims of a corrupt capitalist system. PARASITE also contains lots of strong foul language, extreme violence, drunkenness, some lewd content, and a bitter, hopeless nihilistic streak.
PARASITE is a pitch-black satire of class warfare from South Korea where both the rich and poor are bitterly portrayed. In the story, a poor family in South Korea schemes its way into the world of a rich family as servants, with devastating consequences for all involved when the rich family’s former maid unexpectedly returns with a terrible secret. PARASITE works on many levels, from dark comedy to suspenseful thriller to social commentary, but it has a strong Romantic, politically correct, anti-capitalist, misanthropic worldview with lots of strong foul language, extreme violence, some lewd content, and a bitter, hopeless nihilistic streak.
The movie follows a poor family named Kim, living in the slums of a major South Korean city, constantly having to scam free Wifi to survive and always behind on their phones and other bills. The father has lost two businesses. So, the family takes the most menial jobs imaginable and see no hope, until their teenage son Ki-woo (Choi Woo-shik) talks with a wealthier friend who’s about to leave the country. The friend asks Ki-woo to take over his tutoring job for a rich high school student named Da-hye Park. The friend is interested in dating Da-hye when she starts attending college and (rather stupidly it turns out) doesn’t see Ki-woo as a rival to her affections. The girl’s mother is rather naïve, he tells Ki-woo.
The Parks are indeed very wealthy but actually are fairly nice people. They’re also so caught up in their perfect bubble of a life that they’re easily duped, especially the mother. As Ki-woo’s own mother remarks later, however, it’s easy to be nice to other people when you’re wealthy like the Parks
When Ki-woo realizes that they’ve accepted him as a tutor despite the fact he’s not even a good student, he tells his family they can trick their way into other positions on the Park family’s staff. So, Ki-woo’s sister becomes an art therapist for the girl’s precocious little brother, his mother becomes the maid after Ki-woo, and his sister get the current maid sick with a food allergy, and his father becomes the Park family chauffeur when Ki-woo’s sister plants some panties in the back of Mr. Park’s car.
When the Parks go away for a weekend on a camping trip with their son, who’s joined the Boy Scouts, the Kim family really lives it up by getting drunk and gorging themselves. However, then the former maid shows up in the midst of a driving rainstorm and is fiercely determined to open a hidden tunnel in the basement – a tunnel that hides something beyond everyone’s wildest imaginings.
Violence eventually erupts, and no one’s life will ever be the same.
PARASITE becomes a wild thrill ride that’s alternately suspenseful, shocking and funny. South Korean Bong Joon-Ho (SNOWPIERCER, OKJA) has created some of the most wildly unpredictable movies in recent years, and he outdoes himself here. PARASITE works on many artistic levels as a suspense thriller, a dark comedy and, at times, an unexpectedly powerful drama.
At first, it appears that viewers are to sympathize with the poor Kim family, but as the Kim family devolves into ever more horrible behavior, the rich Park family becomes more sympathetic. That makes for an intriguing moral see-saw, but it eventually leaves viewers with no one to root for as the plot unfolds. The movie’s wildly violent finale at a backyard party takes things so over the top that the movie becomes very nihilistic. Some haunting final scenes, however, provide some interesting minor twists, and even a ray of hope, but the hope disintegrates in the movie’s final sad shot. So, eventually, the movie leaves moviegoers with nothing to inspire them.
Ultimately, PARASITE comes across as a misanthropic movie, with a streak of nihilistic outrage. The movie has a strong Romantic, politically correct worldview that sees both the Kim family and the Park family as victims of the capitalist system in South Korea. This system turns poor people into greedy liars, and rich people into demanding snobs. Once the veneer of civilization is removed, however, everyone’s façade of niceness is stripped. When that happens, brutal murder occurs.
These themes might have been turned into a kind of Christian morality play, but neither God nor Jesus plays a role in the story. PARASITE also contains lots of strong foul language, bloody violence and an awkward, uncomfortable sex scene between Mr. and Mrs. Park. PARASITE sometimes arouses sympathy for some of its characters, but, otherwise, it will turn off the average moviegoer.