Jasmine Kwan 12J
Packed with horror, social and comical aspects
From the official BBFC website: A South Korean black comedy thriller in which of a family of fraudsters lie their way into working closely with an affluent family.
Parasite depicts the Kim family, who struggles with poverty in a poor neighbourhood. All four family members have a hard time searching for employment. Ki-taek, father; Chung-sook, mother. Whilst in the middle of finding a resolution, Ki-woo (the son)’s wealthy friend offers to refer him to a tutoring position for the Parks family. The Parks is a well-off family with two children. After Ki-woo is accepted as the tutor for the Parks’ daughter, he takes advantage of the opportunity and recommends his sister, Ki-jung, as their son’s art therapist. Then Ki-jung recommends another family member for a position in the household, etc. At one point the whole Kim family was involved in the Parks’ house and the job positions.
The story escalates quickly after the Parks went on a camping trip(unsuccessful), meaning that the Kims had the opportunity to experience luxury by sneaking in their house and using the bathtub, drinking the alcohol etc. The old housekeeper(Moon-gwang) shows up and reveals a horrible secret of hers. In the basement, her husband(Geun-sae) hides from loan sharks with extremely poor living conditions. Of course the Parks being so concentrated and absorbed in their own selves, are oblivious to this fact.
We as the audience start to sense the unusualness and odd of the film. The warm yellow lighting upstairs turns to a fluorescent one. This creates a ‘thriller look’ for the film and makes the audience feel uneasy and perhaps a bit sick. Even the smallest amount of uneasiness can feel terrifying because what will happen is unpredictable. This also creates a prominent contrast of the atmosphere in the basement being compared to upstairs, while also symbolizing the difference of living conditions and quality of life between richer and poorer people.
Director Bong Joon-Ho’s application of dramatic irony elevated Parasite. The Kims’ pretended to be highly qualified for their positions, and their family relation is also kept in the dark, in order to work for the Parks. We as the audience know this but the Parks don’t. Furthermore, the Kims manipulate the Parks to fire people with job positions they wanted, and the Parks are so easily influenced by them. They can be said as quite out-of-touch with the world. Perhaps this shows their ignorance and oblivion of people around them and people that work for them, in their house. While rich people are going on with their carefree lives, the capitalist system puts poor people against each other - just as the Kims, and the old housekeeper and her husband did – in order to obtain the few opportunities that the rich left for them, despite the fact that they are in the same ‘class’ and going through similar obstacles.
I myself always reflect on or think about why films are named their film titles after finish watching it. The audience would slowly realise why the film is named Parasite near the end. It’s quite self-explanatory that both families are parasites to each other. The Kim Family have their entire income off from the Parks, while the Parks would not be able to manage their lives without the helping of a housekeeper, driver, art therapist and tutor. Their rely on helpers/workers in their house makes them parasites, yet they are still
ungrateful – not fully ungrateful but it’s hard to say that they are because of ignorance about people different to them, or not as well off as them.
There is no true protagonist in Parasite. All of the main characters are morally ambiguous; in some way they are all responsible for each other’s downfall. No one in this film had any truly moral intentions (except for the children).
The last third of this movie took an abrupt turn. The plot develops to the point where Ki-woo was attacked by Geun-sae, and hits him with a rock on his head. Ki-jung was stabbed by Geun-sae with a knife as well. Ki-taek stabs Mr Park. It was moderately violent, but it was still shocking to me as the fear, anger and resentment each character holds within themselves and for each other felt immense. I think it was very dramatic but it got the point across – that Human would be self-destructing if people are ignorant to each other and act with greed. The ending was a lot to take in as it was poignant and saddening. What struck me the most is the realization that Ki-woo imagines his plan to success later in life, purchasing the house, freeing his father(Ki-taek) from the basement – but we know that it will not happen. The film ends just as how it started, with him initially sitting on the sofa, looking desperately for wi-fi they can use and ends with him reading the letter out to his father but has no intentions of sending it.
I actually watched this film back in 2019 when it was initially out, although it just has been on Netflix UK in this October. I was 12 years old – I didn’t understand a lot of the witty metaphors in the film, but it intrigued me a lot. Yes, this film has 15 rating, apparently I must have watched it on the TV service at home (I don’t remember clearly anymore). Watching Parasite again as a 16-year-old is so different to when I was 12, as I have a deeper understanding of problems in society and challenges people face. It is a tragic story with a tragic ending.
This thrilling social satire captures the ideas of desperation and the wealth gap in a unique way, and I’m sure you would like it if you like the thriller genre, or are generally have social awareness.
Thanks for reading!