Parasite: An Entertaining Genre-Bender About Class

The Kim Family (Woo-sik Choi, Kang-ho Song, Hye-jin Jang, So-dam Park) in Parasite. Courtesy of NEON + CJ Entertainment

Parasite may just be the most entertaining genre-bender of the year but more than this, the film brings a fascinating approach to class.

Comedy, drama, suspense, and yes, even horror.  Parasite bends a few genres while trying to get its message across.  What message exactly is this?  That’s a good question.  Honestly, I encourage you to just sit down and enjoy the ride.  Save the reading for later when you’re in the mood to break the film down.

Here’s what you do need to know.  The Kim family lives in a sub-basement and belongs in the lower class.  Yet one by one, the entire family finds themselves employed by the Park family.  The Park family lives in a beautiful home yet their housekeeper seems to appreciate it more than they do.  As for the Kim family,  Ki-woo (Choi Woo Shik) first comes on board as an English tutor for the Park’s teenage daughter, Di-hye.  He somehow manages to talk his boss, Yeon-kyo (Cho Yeo Jeong), into bringing on an art tutor.  Ki-jung (Park So Dam) soon starts working as an art therapist for the Park family’s youngest son, Da-song.  Next, patriarch Ki-taek (Song Kang Ho) comes on board as Mr. Park’s (Lee Sun Kyun) driver.  After taking the housekeeper, Moon-Gwang (Lee Jung Eun) out of the picture, wife Chung-sook (Chang Hyae Jin) comes on board.

This is where things kind of go into spoiler territory.  All the while, you would think that the Kim family would have made enough to get their own place.  This doesn’t appear to be the case.  Anyway, things change when the Park’s former housekeeper comes back into the picture.  It is during this point in which the film makes a shift in both tone and genre.  A battle for power soon ensues between the Kims and the former housekeeper–one which could possible wreck havoc on their current relationship with the Park family.

At various turns, it’s hard to tell just who the parasite actually is.  Is it the live-in housekeeper that gets forced out?  Or is it the Kim family that ultimately takes advantage of the Parks?  Sure, they do their job but at the same time, they aren’t exactly truthful.

Parasite is not a film that one can digest on a single viewing.  No, I imagine that it’s going to take at least another viewing or more.  There’s just so much that director/co-writer Bong Joon Ho wants to say in the film.  It’s really hard to know where to begin!  When I first heard the title, I straight out assumed it was a horror film.  Personally, I’m glad that I couldn’t have been more wrong.  I guess it would depend on your definition of horror though.  There certainly are some suspenseful moments that fit right at home in a suspenseful thriller.

Make no mistake that Parasite is the best film from Bong Joon Ho to date.  There’s no telling where he’ll go from here but it’s going to take another masterpiece to be able to top this film.  This is a film that, when all is said and done, has a lot to say about income inequality and class structure.

DIRECTOR:  Bong Joon Ho
SCREENWRITERS:  Bong Joon Ho, Han Jin Wan
CAST:  Song Kang Ho, Lee Sun Kyun, Cho Yeo Jeong, Choi Woo Shik, Park So Dam, Lee Jung Eun, Chang Hyae Jin

Neon opens Parasite in theaters on October 11, 2019. Grade: 5/5

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.