‘Parasite’ is an introspective thriller


Left to right: Choi Woo-shik, Song Kang-ho, Jang Hye-jin and Park So-dam star as the impoverished Kim family in “Parasite.” Courtesy of NEON and CJ Entertainment.

“Parasite” is one of the most thrilling pieces of cinematic social commentary in years.

Directed by Bong Joon-Ho, “Parasite” is a foreign film from South Korea where a symbiotic relationship is formed between the wealthy Park family and the destitute Kim family when Kim Ki-woo (Choi Woo-shik), the son of the Kim family, manages to secure a job as tutor for the daughter of the Park family.

However, a former housekeeper of the Park family poses a threat to the established relationship between the Kim’s and the Park’s.

“Parasite” is one of my favorite foreign films in the last couple of years.

The film serves as a piece of social commentary, focusing on class discrimination in South Korean society.

I can’t speak on the status quo in Korean society, as I don’t actively live there nor pay sufficient attention to their current affairs, but I have a feeling that class discrimination may be a present issue as “Parasite” is not the first internationally acclaimed film from South Korea to address this issue.

Yeon Sang-ho’s 2016 film, “Train to Busan,” addressed this issue using a zombie apocalypse in South Korea as the setting for the film. The film’s delivery of class discrimination is not subtle as it shows affluent people sacrificing young and working-class people to the horde of zombies to save themselves. In short, it made for a thrilling and entertaining, yet introspective film.

However, what I enjoyed more about “Parasite” is its use of real-world scenarios regarding affluent and impoverished communities in South Korea.

The way the Kim family conserves and values what little they have, juxtaposed with how the Park family shows apathy to everything but themselves and their own self-interests, delivers a harsh reality that is present not just in South Korea, but in the developed world.

Then, as tensions begin to arise between the Park and the Kim family, the film turns from being a piece of social commentary to a suspenseful thriller.

I can’t say exactly what happens between the two families without spoiling the film, so I’ll only say that the climax of the film, though graphic and violent, symbolizes the animosity that the affluent may feel for the poor and vice versa.

“Parasite” does an outstanding job at delivering a sincere and genuine piece of commentary while also delivering an entertaining and thrilling film.

Though I have issues with melodrama, as I think it’s used solely as vehicle for emotional manipulation, I feel the melodrama in “Parasite” was appropriately applied to add tone to the film’s narrative, especially in the final third of the film.

Considering that “Parasite” is a foreign film, I think some may feel deterred to watch it, but rest assured the cultural connotations in the film are not completely alien to the ones we are accustomed to in the United States, especially those regarding wealth and poverty. Therefore, I recommend “Parasite” to anyone who enjoys either a good piece of commentary or a suspenseful thriller.

Rating: 5/5 stars

Angel Ortega can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @AngelOrtegaNews.