Fantastic Fest Review: Parasite
Upstairs, downstairs gets a darker meaning in Korean masterpiece
By Jenny Nulf,
7:15AM, Mon. Sep. 30, 2019
Bong Joon-ho, who has consistently played with what the class system means in a modern day South Korea, has finally reached his pinnacle with his latest film, Parasite.
It’s a film the owes much to Kim Ki-young’s classic 1960s feature The Housemaid: a home invasion film inverted where the man of the house brings in a low-class woman to take care of his family’s day to day. While Kim’s villain was the patriarchy, he still doesn’t have much love for the titular housemaid, who is maniacal. Bong has a love for all of his characters in Parasite, from the lower-class Kim family to the wealthy Parks.
Each character has their own Parasite to confront. It’s layered, and at the center of it all are the stairs: not just the ones in the Kim family's home, but even the staircases throughout Seoul. The Kims live in a basement at the bottom of a poverty-stricken neighborhood. When it floods, their home is filled with rain water, sludge, and human waste, and the stench lingers on their skin. It’s this stench that keeps the family from moving up, a barrier that prevents their family from creating a stable life for themselves.
And yet, the Kims manage to find themselves taking over every domestic position in the Park household. Kim Ki-woo (Woo-sik Choi) navigates a scheme that is so improbable, and yet they’re able to deceive a family that was smart enough to find wealth, yet not intelligent enough to sniff out the con that’s playing out underneath their roof. And when the Kims discover a larger game at play, the depths Parasite sinks to are so chaotic, so incredible that you’ll have to see it to believe it.
Parasite opens in Austin on Oct. 25.