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‘Parasite’ Review: Be Careful Who You Let into Your Home

If you like comedy, thrills, and social commentary, then you’ve chosen the right film to watch. Parasite (2019), directed by Bong Joon Ho, is a South Korean film that can be viewed with English subtitles. It follows the impoverished and cunning Kim family, who craft a scheme to get the affluent and naïve Park family to employ them. This film gives off Jordan Peele’s Get Out (2017) vibes with its combination of genres, so if you like that film then I’m sure you will enjoy Parasite.

The film starts off as a comedy The Kim family, made up of Ki-taek (father), Chung-sook (mother), Ki-woo (son), and Ki-jeong (daughter), watch disgustedly through their living room window as a drunken man urinates next to their home. They work low-wage jobs folding pizza boxes and are unhappy with their destitute living situation. When Ki-woo’s friend Min-hyuk comes over for a visit, he gives them a scholar’s rock, which symbolizes wealth and a recommendation of a tutoring job for the Park family’s daughter Da-hye. All Ki-woo has to do is pretend he is a college student. His sister, Ki-jeong, creates counterfeit university documents, and his parents are proud because he got this opportunity. After meeting the family, he recommends art therapy with a woman named Jessica (a pseudonym for Ki-jeong) for their son, Da-song. One by one, the Kims infiltrate the Park family, involving some comedic and unfortunate situations that don’t make the Kims shameful, but instead give them immense happiness, because they can finally live comfortably.

The thrills begin once the Kim family feels secure with their new positions, but are nearly found out by Da-song’s keen sense of smell. He mentions how their new employees have the same odor to his parents. Scent, a sense that is not commonly explored in cinema, plays a tremendous role in this film. The Kim family’s unique and unclean smell evokes the theme of the parasite. This theme is also shown when they all force their way into the Park’s household and when they leave their window open when their street is being fumigated for a free extermination. We get to see the stark contrast between the Kim and Park family’s lifestyles when we see the Kims fleeing the Park home. From the top of the scene, we see the Park family’s crisp neighborhood and the descent into the muggy, underground area the Kims live in. The rain from the Park residence floods the Kims’ neighborhood, highlighting how what the rich does severely affects the poor. The scholar’s rock is an important metaphor, as it is supposed to give the family fortune, yet ultimately leads to their downfall. Another unique aspect of this film is the architecture of the Park family’s home. One of the coolest parts of the film was how the set was built so that the Kims were able to spy and hide when needed. This film is about the co-existence between classes, but also ends up showing the destruction of two families. The end of the film takes everyone by surprise and echoes the original tension of the film- the desperate measures the Kim family must take to survive. This film continuously takes risks that increase anxiety, keeping the viewer on edge and making it a must-see film.

Kazuko is a recent graduate from University of California, Davis with a B.A. in Cinema & Digital Media and a minor in English. She loves using her imagination to craft stories, watching television and horror movies, and making her friends and family laugh. When not doing these activities, she's daydreaming about her future television pilot and singing along to her favorite boybands and rock bands. After graduation, she hopes to be a successful writer and work in the entertainment industry.
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